Archive for January, 2008

The music of the warming spheres

Posted on 24/01/08 | in people, society

So, when I was coaxed out of the house last night, little did I know I’d end up discussing Borat with climate change guru Mark Lynas in a village pub.

It was after a talk he gave in the same village hall (Ramsden) where I went to a previous talk on climate change (which I wrote about here and here). Lynas is an excellent speaker and very accomplished at effortlessly marshalling bucketloads of data, as well as fielding complex questions without pause. He provides an admirably sane view of the whole issue, very much from the perspective of a scientist rather than a campaigner. My only worry is that he is over-optimistic about human psychology, ie a reliance on co-operation between nations (though I don’t really doubt that his solutions are at least possible). To me the issue smacks heavily of the prisoner’s dilemma, and the evidence from studies of that doesn’t suggest co-operation is a likely strategy for people in a world where fighting habitually takes precedence over common sense.

He’s also an entertainingly sarcastic sod, and it was fun talking with him. (I’ve only just discovered he was two years below me at Edinburgh, too). My lingering memory of the evening – other than the talk itself – is of the crazy, beer-filled notion of turning his book Six Degrees (a documentary version is being broadcast by National Geographic next week) into a musical. I can’t help thinking about it. It’s horrible, but it could almost work. Mark, get your people to talk to my people. Or, better, get them to sing.