Threats and opportunities

Denbies Hillside from just below Steers Field

I’ve attended two meetings in the last couple of days about threats, one about cyber crime, about which more another time, and one about the climate emergency. The landscape picture above was once a sea. Could it be again? Well, probably not but a lot of coastal land could be as we know. With governments slow to act and some drastic changes to lifestyle needed it would be easy to despair. For some reason we don’t. Most of us seem to be among the stoics, which is probably a good thing, provided it doesn’t lead to complacency.

Many would argue that complacency is exactly what stoicism has lead to. That and the cynicism which has been fed by the climate change deniers. All of which made me think about my responsibility as a writer. Why do I write? The easy answers are because I’m driven to do so, or because I have things I want say, issues I want to explore, I have a need to share or to communicate. All true, but do I have a responsibility to address existential threats like the Climate Emergency, or can I just entertain? You won’t find anything about it in Blessed Assurance, but then that reflects that it was a background issue for most people until relatively recently and the book ends a few years ago. Not many, but enough. There are lots of other issues addressed and I’m pretty sure my characters would have strong views on the subject and would disagree about how to tackle it. And I do feel that the arts, whether it be theatre, books, or any other form, should be about raising questions and provoking thought, and not about providing answers.

Which takes me back to why I’m not despairing. Feelings expressed at the meeting included concern, anxiety, anger that we’d let it go this far, but also a determination to act, to change and to encourage others, not least the politicians. And reading Josef Stiglitz on the New Green Deal being proposed for the USA raised some hope for better things. Once Trump is history of course…

Tony Earnshaw

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