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Adrift

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in General Rants , Wednesday, September 11, 2019

So here I am, sitting in seat 2F of an Icelandair Boeing 757, on my way to Greenland via Reykjavik, about 20 years and 1 month since I was doing pretty much exactly the same thing. Back then, I had some idea of what I was looking for. In fact it was two things: a life reset following a disastrous relationship breakdown, and a attempt to reconnect with the high latitudes. Photography was not really a part of it, which is just as well as 95% of my film exposures were ruined.

Twenty years later the world has moved on. I’m really not at all sure what my reason for travelling is this time. I’m neither the person of 20 years ago looking for a new direction, or indeed the passionate photographer of 10 or 15 years ago.

Twenty years ago we could sit around and wonder at the first public ruminations on climate change. Indeed these were nothing new to me as up until that point polar climate research had been my career. It was all a bit concerning but somehow a long way off, and anyway, surely “they” would see sense and Do Something. After all, even the Wicked Witch of the East, Margaret Thatcher, recognised that it was a serious issue. Then again, Thatcher was a scientist, and with hindsight, not totally evil. So we all waited. And waited. And here we are. I think that the correct description of our current status is “totally fucked”. Rather than stumbling towards at least some kind of enlightenment, we are hurtling head on to extinction, not only of our own miserable species, but also of the whole amazing biosphere we are part of. Led by imbeciles like Trump, Johnson, Putin, Xi Jinping, Bolsonaro, Salvini and countless others, along with the shady cohort of “advisors” and billionaires who pump in the money to enable them, we are accelerating into a brick wall. It is hard to understand what motivates these people. They’re not all stupid, far from it, and they surely must realise what the real situation is. But they don’t care. Applying Occam’s Razor almost leads to the conclusion that the Legions of Hell are a real thing, and these people are the vanguard. Do they really believe they can eat, drink and breathe money?

The not so slow-motion collapse of the Arctic ecosphere is not highlighted as a last chance alarm bell, as Thatcher surely would have done, but, unbelievably, as a chance for Trump, sodding Putin and Xi to drill yet more oil. Presumeably to throw onto their mate Bolsonaro’s fires.

And yet, here I am, ranting on about this, while travelling in splendid isolation, somewhere over France, in a Boeing 757 spewing out carbon dioxide, so I can take a few photos of what remaining icebergs we might find. By all rights I should not be able to afford this flight. The true cost is far more than I can pay.

I see no reason for optimism. None at all. Sure, there are a lot of good people out there, but there are no good sufficiently empowered leaders. The problems that need to be resolved are immense, and complex on all sorts of levels. The issue of over population needs to be addressed, because this is a root cause. The planet certainly can sustain the current and projected population, but not with the current wealth imbalance.  Us Europeans and North Americans cannot continue to grab 90% of the world’s resources. The misery in much of Asia and Africa, and to some extent South America, need not exist if we had equitable distribution of wealth and resources. Certainly our living standards would need to drop a little (actually not so much) and I would not be sitting on this plane. But is this going to happen, at least peacefully? Not a chance. And that’s before we even start to look at really bring greenhouse gas emissions under control. But hey, even if we solve THAT intractable problem, there’s that little issue we have with plastic pollution. And all the rest of it.

On balance I’m relieved that I don’t have children, and that I was born early enough that I will, probably, escape the worst of this.

And yet, the USA will doubtless re-elect Trump. After all, what alternatives do they have? The numbskull British will obey the Daily Mail and elect Johnson, because Johnson offers the Daily Mail’s billionaire owners, and the billionaire friends, more money. And they’ll come up with some way to bribe the populace with some baubles in exchange for a livable future. They won’t elect Jeremy Corbyn, a thoroughly decent chap with the Achille’s heel of being far, far too honest for today’s politics. Even though Corbyn could save them and navigate a path to a sustainable future. They won’t do that, because they might have to pay a smidgeon more for their beer, and maybe take the bus sometimes rather than the SUV. Of course this is all really Darwin’s law in action, expect it’s in action on us, not on some esoteric concept like the Dodo.

So what am I doing here? If I had a following, or were An Influencer, perhaps I could claim that my matchless photography will open the world’s eyes to these issues. But it won’t. We’ve seen enough photos of Scoresbysund - it is indeed a remarkable place, perhaps we should let it be. No, I’m going for purely selfish reasons. It will be great to meet up again with my friend Daniel Bergmann, although it says something about my ability to form friendships that I have to travel halfway across the Atlantic to do so. And maybe I’ll make some new friends, who knows. But I have no expectations of making any photography of any consequence, and certainly not of alleviating the problems that my very travelling is significantly contributing to.

One hour and twenty minutes out from the slow gentle descent into Keflavik gazing out over the pink tinged clouds shrouding the ocean, it all looks so peaceful and timeless. But when we go down, as we surely will, we’ll doubtless take it with us. All that remains is, for those of us fortunate enough to have the opportunity, to enjoy it while we can. And take some photos.

 

las malvinas son britanicas

bald men still fighting over comb

in politics , Tuesday, March 12, 2013

So, turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, and the Falkland Islanders have voted to remain British. There’s a surprise. It’s difficult to form an opinion on this. I’ve been both to the Falklands and Argentina, and it seems that positions are fairly entrenched on both sides, although in Argentina the average person doesn’t seem to be all that bothered about it, despite constant wild-eyed hectoring by Margaret Thatcher

Cristina Kirchner.

Drm dp2 20130112 0514

They haven’t quite got over that little incident yet…

The

Bennies Malvinistas

Falkland Islanders never struck me as a particularly pleasant bunch of people, and the place itself is as miserable as a wet weekend in, well, Stanley. But it has to be said there is no tenable position for the the Argentinian Republic to claim them.  I really like Argentina, and Argentinians, but collectively as a nation they don’t have a terribly good record of peaceful neighbourly relations. They seem just a little insecure, why heaven’s knows, they have no reason to be.

Everywhere you go in Argentina, you can’t get away from being reminded that Las Malvinas son (no they’re not and never were) y seran (unlikely, the way they’re going about it) Argentinas. It gets real, really tiresome and quite frankly detracts from the fantastic natural and cultural riches the country actually does possess.

I guess I could, maybe, be convinced of the geographical argument, but even then Chile might also have a valid claim. But when the looney element of the Argentine body politic also lays claim to South Georgia and the South Sandwich islands (not to mention Antarctica) they go way off the red end of the credibility scale. Why not grab Tristan da Cunha while they’re at it? After all that’s Imperialist Colonist British too! Or why not South Africa, it’s on the same latitude as Argentina!!

I can’t see how this is ever going to get resolved. It would require adult behaviour on both sides, and of course a British government willing to restrain itself from stirring the pot. Fat chance of any of that.

 

Save the world

but throw out the contents

in politics , Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Today in the Independent Johann Hari has a pretty good article on the climate change issue leading up to Copenhagen. There isn’t anything alarmist or sensationalist about it, and most of the examples he gives are not predictions - they’ve already happened.

I recommend reading the article.

But don’t read the comments. Please don’t read the comments. Not unless you want to feel like you immersed in a nauseating slime that will never wash off. The Independent which normally appeals to a readership which doesn’t drag its knuckles along the ground, but you’d never know it here. The (sadly typical) display of ignorance and denial fueled by petty greed and bigotry is more than enough to make me feel that wiping out the human species, by and large, will be a very positive step for the Universe.

 

Minarets Nein Danke

the worst form of government

in General Rants , Monday, November 30, 2009

So the Swiss citizenry has voted quite decisively to outlaw the building of minarets in their country. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the underlying issue are (for the record, I don’t find minarets any more offensive than church towers) what is interesting is the outrage from politicos around the world, especially those that habitually bang on about democracy.

minaret.jpg

What we have hear is pure, unadulterated democracy in action. Democracy actual implies that the will of the majority (with, possibly, some degree of weighting) carries the day. This isn’t at all what the common perception is. When people say something is “undemocratic”, they usually mean “it’s NOT FAIR!” or it is “contrary to the policies of the US of America”. Now they have a clear illustration that democracy doesn’t necessarily produce the result they believe should have happened, or they want. Another example is the fair, democratic election of Hamas in the Palestinian State.

So, yes, it probably isn’t fair to deny Muslims in Switzerland the outward expression of their faith. But it is democratic. Very democratic.

“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” - Winston Churchill.