Είναι ελπιδοφόρο ότι το ΜΕΡΑ25 κατέθεσε τροπολογία για εισαγωγή αντι-SLAPP νομοθεσίας στην Ελλάδα.
Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Sunday, 28 November 2021
Here are some thoughts of mine based on this excellent article on the Sunday Times by Matthew Syed.
I was lucky to be born in Athens, Greece. My birthplace gave me the automatic right to have a Greek passport (and hence the freedom to travel within EU) so when I finished my BSc studies in Athens, I moved to Leeds to do my PhD and years later, while living in the UK, I was naturalised British and got two nationalities.
Nothing of this would have happened if I was born in Syria or Iran or Afghanistan.
The main problem with immigrants from the East to the West is simple and it is this: millions of people in these countries lose their jobs, their quality of life, their dignity by wars caused or supported by the West! Have a look on which companies trade weapons to these Eastern countries. No need to look further: it's France, UK, US and Germany. So these western countries cause and create wars for geopolitical reasons; wars that affect millions of children, women and men. Wars that are the root cause of immigration.
Around a third of the migrants in the new Samos camp will stay in 240 small houses, the rest will live in large halls
Go and have a look at the "detention" camps for refugees in Lesvos, in Samos. Go and have a look at the Wall the Greek government has built in Evros, at the borders with Turkey, in order to stop the immigrants from entering Greece and hence EU.
And then think again...what can we really do to help these innocent people who are simply looking for a job and a home?
Lack of political willingness is the root cause.
While at the same time, wars are going on and on and on... Money makes the world go round...
Immigrants are just collateral image...
Innovation is the lifeblood of success in a fast-changing world. Whether you want to develop a new product to fill a gap in the market or make your processes more efficient or environmentally friendly, you need to innovate. Many companies know what they need to do but fail because they try to do it alone, which is a shame because there is help at hand.
The perceived wisdom used to be that research and innovation was for only big companies. Small businesses couldn’t afford it and relied on things such as good customer service to stay afloat. That is no longer the case. All businesses need to innovate to survive and the best way to do that successfully is to engage with Ireland’s public research network to find a suitable partner and identify potential funding options.
“So much has changed in the world over the past two years,” Siobhan Horan, head of industry and partner engagement at Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI), said. “The way we live and work has changed completely, which has created the requirement for a whole new set of products and services.
“Knowledge transfer between academic research and business plays a crucial role in getting these products and services to market quickly and efficiently. Everyone should be doing it. It can help organisations of all sizes across a wide range of requirements by giving them access to state-of-the-art research facilities and top level expertise as required. The combination of expertise and funding can help to transform smaller companies with limited resources by enabling them to scale up quickly.”
the full article is here.
Friday, 26 November 2021
the full paper is here
Background and objectives: Aging is characterized by a functional shift of the immune system towards a proinflammatory phenotype. This derangement has been associated with cognitive decline and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of dementia. Diet can modulate systemic inflammation; thus, it may be a valuable tool to counteract the associated risks for cognitive impairment and dementia. The present study aimed to explore the associations between the inflammatory potential of diet, assessed using an easily applicable, population-based, biomarker-validated diet inflammatory index (DII), and the risk for dementia in community-dwelling older adults.
Methods: Individuals from the Hellenic Longitudinal Investigation of Aging and Diet (HELIAD) were included in the present cohort study. Participants were recruited through random population sampling, and were followed for a mean of 3.05 (SD=0.85) years. Dementia diagnosis was based on standard clinical criteria. Those with baseline dementia and/or missing cognitive follow-up data were excluded from the analyses. The inflammatory potential of diet was assessed through a DII score which considers literature-derived associations of 45 food parameters with levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in the blood; higher values indicated a more pro-inflammatory diet. Consumption frequencies were derived from a detailed food frequency questionnaire, and were standardized to representative dietary intake normative data from 11 different countries. Analysis of dementia incidence as a function of baseline DII scores was performed by Cox proportional hazards models.
Results: Analyses included 1059 individuals (mean age=73.1 years; 40.3% males; mean education=8.2 years), 62 of whom developed incident dementia. Each additional unit of DII was associated with a 21% increase in the risk for dementia incidence [HR=1.21 (1.03 - 1.42); p=0.023]. Compared to participants in the lowest DII tertile, participants in the highest one (maximal pro-inflammatory diet potential) were 3 [(1.2 - 7.3); p=0.014] times more likely to develop incident dementia. The test for trend was also significant, indicating a potential dose-response relationship (p=0.014).
Conclusions: In the present study, higher DII scores (indicating greater pro-inflammatory diet potential) were associated with an increased risk for incident dementia. These findings might avail the development of primary dementia preventive strategies through tailored and precise dietary interventions.
© 2021 American Academy of Neurology.
Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Tuesday, 23 November 2021
Ο Οργανισμός Διαχείρισης και Ανάπτυξης Πολιτιστικών Πόρων έθεσε σε κυκλοφορία το νέο σουβενίρ του Αρχαιολογικού Μουσείου Αρχαίας Ολυμπίας, «Χάρισμα Διός», το ντόπιο ελαιόλαδο που, όποιος το αγοράσει, σίγουρα δεν θα το φάει καθώς κοστίζει... 54 ευρώ το λίτρο! ● Αγανάκτηση στην τοπική κοινωνία, καθώς αυτή η «τουριστική παγίδα» δυσφημεί τον τόπο τους.
Tuesday, 16 November 2021
Covid-19 is coming back and the number of cases in Ireland and Greece are going through the roof.
Today, we need to remember that COVID-19 is related to inflammation and chronic diseases.
Our group has been working actively on this link and we have published a number of papers.
Here they are:
source: The Irish Times, 16.11.2021
More than 36,700 tonnes of chocolate bought in Ireland last year shows extent of health challenge
In an opinion piece in the London Times a few months ago, the managing director of Haribo in Britain and Ireland, writing in opposition to restrictions of the online advertising of sweets to children, implored the British public to see sense: “Haribo’s goal is to create moments of childlike happiness. We believe an occasional sweet treat with loved ones is a key part of happiness. Given the year we’ve had, small moments of happiness are sorely needed.”
Mondelez, the manufacturer of snacks aplenty – its portfolio including Toblerone, Cadbury, Green & Black’s, Oreo and Fry’s – want to “help consumers easily enjoy the right snacks throughout their day, and inspire them to snack mindfully so they can savour and feel good about each and every snack”.
Bórd Bia, the Irish food board, advise snack brand manufacturers that “giving people ‘permission to indulge’ in your product is a smart strategy and one that’s behind many successes. It’s also a strategy that dairy is well placed to capitalise on, since it already has a ‘halo of health’.”
It is indeed a good marketing strategy.
Every single snack brand says you’ve had a bad day, treat yourself, you’ve had a good day, treat yourself. It appeals to that deep sense in all of us that we deserve something – the brand’s tone-of-voice is reassuring, indulgent, like a mother in a fairytale.
With the now common knowledge that snack food is inherently bad for you, the only way to market the oxymoron of “responsible” snacking if you are such a brand is to put up your hands, say it’s “indulgent” (code word for bad) and advocate it as an occasional treat, an indulgence to share. A lobby group called the European Snacks Association reminds us that “savoury snacks can be part of a balanced diet”. Those killjoy public health people want to take away those special moments we are trying to create for you, and your family. Sure, it is only a packet of sweets.
So, every brand in every snack category advocates its food as an occasional treat, which is individually logical. But taken together, these messages become collectively absurd. Let’s run the numbers. Euromonitor (the global market information database) disseminates reports on snacking categories in many countries, including Ireland.
Here’s a back of the envelope look at snack sales in Ireland during 2020.
- Chocolate confectionary: 37,600 tonnes. That’s 7.4kg per person per year. If a Mars bar weighs 51g, that’s 145 of them, for everyone.
- Ice-cream and frozen desserts: 20,409 tonnes – 4.16kg per person per year. If a Magnum ice-cream is 86g, that’s 48 of them, for everyone.
- Sweet biscuits and snack bars: 35,709 tonnes – 7.2kg per person per year. If a packet of Digestive biscuits is 400g, that’s 18 packs, for everyone.
- Soft drinks: 338.0 million litres. 68.97 litres per person per year. If a bottle of coke is 500ml, that’s 136 bottles, for everyone.
- Sugar confectionary: 22,088 tonnes. 4.5kg per person per year. If a packet of Skittles is 45g, that’s 100 packets, for everyone.
- Savoury snacks: 58,500 tonnes. 11.9kg per person per year. If a packet of Tayto crisps is 35g, that’s 340 packets
- Ready meals: 44,500 tonnes. 9.08kg per person per year. If a Dr Oetker frozen pizza is 335g, that’s 27 pizzas, for everyone.
- Packaged bakery: 320,000 tonnes. Packaged cakes, pastries and desserts make up about 40 per cent of this, so 128,000 tonnes. 26.1kg per person per year. If a Cuisine de France croissant weighs 50g, that’s 522 of them, for everyone.
In order to account for this consumption, each man, woman and child is eating the equivalent of a third of a Mars bar, a bite of a Magnum, a couple of biscuits, a glass of Coke, a handful of Skittles, a packet of crisps, a bite of a pizza, and a croissant and a half, every single day. Just a little treat makes logical sense.
But put this logic in an environment of stiff competition and it’s nonsense.
And don’t forget, we are not including fast food, meat snacks, dairy, unpacked pastries and baked goods, breakfast cereals, sweet spreads, hot drinks or weaning foods in this analysis. Nor alcohol nor energy drinks. We are not talking about food service (deli counters, lunch portables) or dining out (about a third of meals in Ireland).
We are simply highlighting a subset of a subset: the “snack”. So ours might be considered a recklessly conservative underestimate of snacking.
But it does expose how cynical, inaccurate and misleading the discourse of “treatwise” can be.
While the Haribo director is right about the pursuit of happiness, what about the cumulative harms which inherently unhealthy snack food products pose to customers.
Rather than listening to the whisper, we all need to hear the clamour.
This is death by a thousand snacks.
Dr Norah Campbell is associate professor of marketing at Trinity Business School, TCD; Dr Sarah Browne is assistant professor of marketing and strategy at Trinity Business School; and Prof Francis M Finucane is consultant endocrinologist at Galway University Hospitals and NUI Galway
Monday, 15 November 2021
Every time I hear the line that the Government has a target of a million electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030, I think: stupid idea. Not because we don’t need to get rid of petrol and diesel vehicles – that bit is obvious – but because the implication is this target means new vehicles, and a million of them. What we actually need to be aiming for is fewer private vehicles, and addressing our addiction to consumerism overall. There are better ways to achieve the electrification of vehicles than creating a boom for the car manufacturing industry – which obviously uses an incredible amount of energy and materials in making these vehicles – and essentially throwing away vehicles that are perfectly decent besides what they run on and how they run.
Green capitalism is an oxymoron. Green consumerism is too. Growing the new car market is not a logical approach. We need to use what we have. It’s ridiculous that out of one side of its mouth, the Green Party bangs on about recycling, reusing and upcycling, and out of the other, essentially instructs people to buy new cars.
We could do a deep psychological dive on how colonialism and historical peasantry makes mugs of us all in the shops, but time is running out
One of the greatest Irish attributes is cop-on. Common sense needs to form the backbone of a radical approach to the climate crisis here. Rooting innovations in cop-on would be lauded by those members of the public who don’t make up the vested interests that have a grip on government climate policy. More forestry, a sustainable approach to electric vehicles, a high-speed electric rail network expanded across the country, prioritising city roads for tram use, ending the cruel export industry of live animals, introducing cheaper and more heavily subsidised public transport, affordable insulation solutions for homes and publicly owned wind power (not the current bonkers trend of tech companies buying up wind farms and claiming this is somehow a logical avenue to reach renewable “targets” and not what it actually is – the creation of additional energy in order to divert it towards energy-guzzling data centres), are what’s needed. Encouraging consumerism runs counter to the concept of sustainability.
Irish people love new things, even if we still feel slightly guilty about the consumer boom of the Celtic Tiger. One of our national pastimes is ripping out perfectly good kitchens and replacing them with a slick, bling aesthetic more at home in Miami than Monasterevin. We could do a deep psychological dive on how colonialism and historical peasantry makes mugs of us all in the shops, but time is running out. If we want to be nimble, smart and sustainable, then let’s go back to the concept of cop-on.
We don’t need a million new vehicles. Cop on. We need to root everything we do from now on in concepts of sustainability, practicality and not making more new things just so we can throw away the old things. I’m intrigued by New Electric Ireland, a Wicklow company taking learnings from a Dutch company and training mechanics in the craft of electric conversion – removing a car’s engine, gearbox and fuel tank, and replacing that with a new motor and the batteries needed to power it. “Most mechanics we work with can get an engine out of a car in about half an hour,” Kevin Sharpe of New Electric Ireland said in an interview with IrishEVs.com, “and the rest of that process is just bolting in the kit, and you can do that in a couple of hours”. This conversion process costs the owner somewhere in the region of €2,000-€5,000. Makes sense. If you already own a car, then why not modify it, instead of chucking it and buying a new one?
We also need a reality check when it comes to the more profound changes that need to occur to actually initiate a new way of living that doesn’t contribute further to destroying the planet
We need to look at things in that favourite cliche of politicians: “in the round”. We need to see things as connected. A car is not magically sustainable by default of being electric. It has to be manufactured, and its sustainability also depends on how the electricity it uses is generated. This is why the lifetime emissions of an EV vary from country to country, because of how each country generates electricity. In a country where electricity is still generated primarily through fossil fuels, it takes much longer for an EV to ultimately emit less carbon dioxide overall than a petrol or diesel vehicle. A country with cleaner and greener electricity generation, on the whole, is better suited to a massive surge in EVs.
We also need a reality check when it comes to the more profound changes that need to occur to actually initiate a new way of living that doesn’t contribute further to destroying the planet. I hate to break it to you, but successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments have not been able to solve the housing crisis, the health service, childcare, homelessness, water infrastructure and many more fundamental issues that should make up a functioning and equal society. How on Earth could anyone believe that on the issue of the climate crisis – any contemporary government’s biggest challenge yet – these parties will make a U-turn on their embedded ideologies and somehow ace this challenge?
That’s just not going to happen. Fianna Fáil’s stupid short-termism, Fine Gael’s voracious neoliberalism and the Green Party’s consumer-capitalist strain all run counter to addressing the climate crisis and saving the planet. Unless we unseat those forces, we’re not so much crawling towards climate chaos as joyriding towards it.
Friday, 12 November 2021
from SMC Express, November 2021
According to the latest available data, Ireland has the second highest rate of obesity in EU, with more than a quarter of the adult population classified as such. A survey on weight by Eurostat found that 26 per cent of Irish adults were obese in 2019, well ahead of the EU average of 16 per cent and trailing only Malta, where the rate was 28 per cent. In a 2015 survey of World Health Organisation (WHO), by 2030, Europe will face an obesity crisis of “enormous proportions”. In terms of obesity alone, the estimates show a big jump for women in the Irish Republic, soaring from 23 per cent to 57 per cent. The proportion of obese Irish men was expected to increase from 26 per cent to 48 per cent.
The full article is here, page 1.
Η Ingeborg Beugel με την ερώτησή της και ξεμπροστιάζοντας τον κ. Μητσοτάκη, κτύπησε φλέβα χρυσού: αποκάλυψε ότι οι σημερινοί κυβερνώντες κρύβονται, φυλάγονται, δεν τους αρέσει ο δημόσιος έλεγχος και απεχθάνονται να βρίσκονται απέναντι σε δημοσιογράφους που θα τους κάνουν άβολες ερωτήσεις
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Υ.Γ. Το άρθρο αυτό αφιερώνεται στον εξαιρετικό δημοσιογράφο κ. Κωνσταντίνο Λαβίθη του Real FM με τις ευχαριστίες μου για την έμπνευση που μου δίνουν όλοι οι ακροατές της εκπομπής του «Ανεμολόγιο», όλοι οι φίλοι Ανεμολογίτες.
Tuesday, 9 November 2021
If one teenager in Sweden could inspire a global movement to strike and march, surely teenagers could do more than just draw attention to this issue. Maybe they could help solve it?
source: the Irish Times, 9.11.2021 ; by Peter McGarry
Half way from coal, half way to diamond. That’s how I would describe the current state of the climate change debate.
I don’t doubt the sincerity of the leaders gathered in Glasgow for the Cop26 event. Yet despite scientific and political consensus that calamity is certain without action, the vast majority are beholden to electoral cycles and thus incentivised to make promises tied to goals in the distant future.
I believe this approach will fail, and by the end of this decade we will have to look to a new generation of leaders with a more forceful and urgent approach. My strong conviction is that the leaders who will solve this issue are sitting in classrooms around the world today.
Reading entries of the recent Irish Times children’s climate writing competition strengthened my belief that these children will have to grasp the nettle in coming years when the current crop of leaders are shown to have lacked sufficient courage and urgency to address the task at hand.
But we need more than writing competitions to prepare this generation for the tough decisions they will have to make. We need global movements to educate, inspire, mentor and empower these young future leaders.
I happen to be part of one such movement, with teenage students in 76 countries and counting, competing to find the best environmental sustainability solutions.
I believe this is how future leaders will be forged with a solution-based mindset amid the background noise of lofty goals lacking clear delivery plans and enforcement mechanisms streaming from Glasgow.
Let me take a moment to explain how my journey started on this path, and the movement called The Earth Prize came about. Normally fate doesn’t come knocking at the window. In my case, it wasn’t so much a knocking sound as a cacophony of noise. Sitting in an office in Geneva, you don’t expect to be drawn to stare outside to see what the commotion is.
I was dumbfounded to see hundreds then thousands of kids marching by on the street below. The march was one of numerous school strikes across the globe inspired by Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish environmental activist.
That was September 2019, and the experience gnawed away at me until one day during the Covid lockdown of early 2020 when I decided to do something about it.
My thoughts over that interval were on how best to harness and leverage the frustration and passion seen in those teenagers. If one teenager in Sweden could inspire a global movement to strike and march, surely teenagers could do more than just draw attention to this issue. Maybe they could help solve it?
Suddenly it made sense why the school strikes had gone viral; students were frustrated and understandably so
That’s when I decided to set up a global competition for teenage students to find fresh ideas and solutions to environmental problems. Conversations with teachers and students emphasised the frustrations many had with the lack of sustainability on the syllabus.
Suddenly it made sense why the school strikes had gone viral; students were frustrated and understandably so. I decided we needed to educate them on the key sustainability concepts.
Ideas need a spark, so my team and I decided we also had to inspire. We looked around the globe for young change-makers, people and organisations who were solving environmental problems today in the real world.
We found many amazing change-makers, and are showcasing them on our learning platform so students can learn from their journeys, and the obstacles they had to overcome.
Education and inspiration can create a foundation and a spark, but teenagers also need to be mentored. Students from top universities across the world were interviewed and a pool of 30 were selected.
These passionate mentors are volunteering to help every teacher and student in the competition by sharing their knowledge and experience. It was incredibly gratifying to see a mentor answer the first question from a teacher in Nigeria. a global community had sprung into action.
Students from top universities across the world were interviewed and a pool of 30 were selected
Since registration for The Earth Prize opened on September 1st last, teams from schools in over 76 countries have signed up to compete. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, from schools in Middle East refugee camps to my own alma mater, Naas CBS in Co Kildare.
Tomorrow’s leaders, who will have to make the tough decisions we are currently shirking, need to go beyond marching and writing essays. They need to start forming a solution-focused mindset.
They need to prepare for their roles as leaders who will solve the climate crisis. I hope many more Irish schools and teenage students will join our movement.
Sunday, 7 November 2021
These days everybody keeps an eye on COP26 in Glasgow and the deliberations there that will lead to nothing concrete for one more time.
Top issues at the agenda are the Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions, the farting of the cows (methane) and the predicted temperature rise of the global average temperature.
A temperature rise that will cause the glaciers to melt more quickly and the sea level is going to rise and hence some countries will become land under water. This, in turn, will cause huge immigrating waves towards the rest (above the sea) of the world and food security will be a huge problem.
However, we should not only talk about the climate.
Today, with the extensive use of chemicals and plastics, we have to address the safety and the sustainability of our food chain, the recycling of the plastics, the plastic plague and also the air quality in many cities in the world.
In Ireland, the highest levels of asthma cases are in Limerick. But this doesn't stop the planning of burning toxic waste in cement kilns and one of them is in Mungret, in close vicinity to the city of Limerick. Do we really want to further reduce the air quality in Limerick?
Do we really wish to burn plastics and hence pollute the air with carcinogenic dioxins and PM2.5?
In our view, talking only about the GHG and the climate is a kind of severe shortsightedness. We need to start having a holistic approach to all environmental problems, from recycling to water quality and the climate. We need to think about the finite sources of our planet, the air, the forests, the water.
We also need to consider the way we produce food today, e.g. is palm oil's production sustainable? Is the pace that we destroy the Amazon sustainable (a football of forest is destroyed every six seconds!) ?
Our current shortsightedness is a major problem that needs to be addressed urgently! The Science is here and the data are strong. However, our political personnel can't understand the severity of these data and they put their political survival above the common good! This needs to stop...Today!
Saturday, 6 November 2021
"Depend upon it, sir,” said Samuel Johnson, “when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully”. We do indeed have to depend upon the Cop26 summit proving Johnson right, and that the threat of extinction will concentrate the collective mind.
There are, at least, some precedents. One of them is, ironically, the origin of the great fear that has now been displaced by climate change: nuclear war.
Over Christmas in 1938, two physicists, Lise Meitner and her nephew Otto Frisch, had a startling insight. They realised that if you bombarded a uranium nucleus with a neutron, it could split into two, releasing a great amount of energy.
It very quickly dawned on scientists that this could become a chain reaction, producing more and more energy. That process could, in theory, be harnessed to make a bomb of unprecedented destructiveness.
In the spring of 1940, Frisch and Rudolf Peierls, having, like Meitner, fled from the Nazis, arrived in Birmingham. There they figured out something even more alarming – a lump of uranium-235 the size of a golf ball would be enough to make such a bomb.
An even darker thought followed – if they had worked this out, then surely the brilliant colleagues they had left behind in Germany must have done the same. Hitler might well be working on an atomic bomb.
This was, as Jewish people already knew, an existential threat. If Hitler had the bomb and his enemies did not, he would certainly use it. “As a weapon,” Frisch and Peierls warned Winston Churchill, “the super-bomb would be practically irresistible”. They argued the imperative of developing an atomic bomb as a “counter-threat”.
What happened next was an extraordinary concentration of the mind. Churchill, who himself had already foreseen the possibility that the splitting of the atom could lead to a new and fearful kind of weaponry, alerted US president Franklin D Roosevelt.
Out of this dread came a staggering achievement. The Manhattan Project really got under way in September 1942. The first atomic bomb was exploded less than three years later, in July 1945.
The horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki make it hard to celebrate this achievement. But it was, in itself, stunning.
Creating the atomic bomb was actually much more difficult than the scientists had imagined. It required an unprecedented concentration of industrial might, scientific brilliance, governmental commitment and vast public resources.
The reason all of this came together was existential dread: terror of the Nazis and what they would do if they got the bomb first. The prospect of being hanged in a fortnight made what was scarcely possible an achievable reality.
The great irony, of course, is that this remarkable accomplishment in fact added to the common store of dread. Nuclear weapons, initially a guarantor against extinction, became themselves the bearers of the threat that humanity might obliterate itself.
I sometimes wonder whether one of the deep-lying reasons for the failure of governments and societies to acknowledge the peril of climate change was a kind of dread fatigue.
Everyone who lived through the cold war also lived with a burden of anxiety: the knowledge that an apocalyptic conflagration would trigger the nuclear winter in which most life on Earth would perish. It was a constant background noise that, at moments of crisis, came to the fore and became overwhelming.
It was perhaps unfortunate that the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was published in 1990, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. One burden of terror was being lifted, but here was another coming along right on cue to take its place.
Perhaps it was natural to think: give us a break. Perhaps humankind needed a holiday from existential anxiety. But the effusion of greenhouse gases did not take a vacation – it just kept going.
Maybe there has also been a paradoxical hangover from the cold war – the worst did not happen. The hard rain did not fall. The eve of destruction was not followed by the dark night of annihilation.
Maybe the period between 1989 and the Paris Agreement of 2015 can be seen as humanity’s long exhale, a sigh of relief that the great danger had apparently passed and we were safe now.
There was a deep desire not to know this was the ultimate false sense of security. It was a pleasant illusion to imagine that, since we got away with the game of chance that was mutually assured destruction, we would get away with every other form of dicing with death.
Indulgence in that illusion has led us to the present crisis. The question that now faces the world is a stark one: can humans concentrate their collective minds without an external enemy?
The great fusions of politics, technology, industry and science – like the Manhattan Project and the Apollo moonshot – have been driven by warlike competition.
Without the fear of the Nazis, the atom bomb would not have been developed at such dizzying speed. Without the space race between the Americans and the Soviets, there would have been no man on the moon.
A pessimist might say that this is precisely the problem with climate change. There is no Them, only an Us. We are our own worst enemy, and we have to be our own bogeyman. We have to scare ourselves into action.
It is war that has typically speeded up history by galvanisng the idea of a threat that must be countered, whatever the cost. It is competition for dominance that has spurred governments to undertake the seemingly impossible.
But now we face a threat that cannot be countered by competition between nations. It can be met only by co-operation on a truly global scale. Survival demands that we be afraid, not of each other, but for each other, and for all the others not yet born.
What we know, however, is that the concentration of the mind produces amazing results. If political systems really want to, they can harness science, technology, government, economics and industry to the same wagon. And then things can move with extraordinary rapidity.
Can that willpower be generated without war?
More than a century ago, George Bernard Shaw, in Man and Superman, had the Devil suggest that “in the arts of life, man invents nothing, but in the arts of death, he outdoes nature herself”. But we can no longer outdo, or outrun, nature.
If half the money, ingenuity and energy that has been devoted to the arts of death is channelled into the rapid decarbonisation of the global economy, it will be achieved.
gallows we have built for ourselves does not have to be ascended. We
have the power, seldom granted to those who have committed capital
crimes against nature, to grant ourselves a reprieve.