As heads of state gather in Mexico to discuss global warming, they would do well to dwell on the wise words of Margaret Atwood
Sunday 28 November 2010
Her example has been to apply concentrated original thought to the issues surrounding global warming, and not to shy away from painful conclusions about mankind's capacity for self-destruction. A bracing realism about the finite wonder of life on Earth derives from her childhood in the Canadian wilderness. Physics and chemistry, she contends, have their own remorseless logic. So she knows the planet's vulnerability, and its essential durability, too: "The planet will be OK, in its own way. The problem is us." Ms Atwood's candour, unflinching intellectual clarity, and sardonic optimism are not the only skills delegates of Cancún will need, but they might help.
Since last year's fudged Copenhagen summit, the political will to combat climate change has drained away alarmingly. The urgency of the cause is undiminished, but prospects for global action are shrinking. In such circumstances, writers and artists that can fire the imagination, and inject hope, perform a profound service to humanity.
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