Cool, to reflect on the fact that my Handelschule, in Triest, now in 2017 turns 200.
Tragic, to think that at its first centanary anniversary, on November 4th 2017, many of its students were fighting both at Kobarid or on the river Piave…being them engaged both on Austrian and Italian fronts.
And now, a hundred years later, Europe is still a work in progress, which seems rather to go backwards than forward. Today, the Rome Treaty anniversary. Ursula van den Layen says that populist movements are no longer on the rise. I hope she is right.
On Friday the daytime flight from Tokyo to Helsinki was very interesting, the sun on Japan made the approach to Khabarovsk very spectacular, as usual…now that I think of it, in the middle of all that tundra and snow, I always saw the sun shining each time I flew over the Okotsch Sea.
The sight over the northern edge of Siberia was beautiful, and at a certain point we flew just in between the coast and the Novajia Zemljia. From that vantage point it was incredible to see the Marginal Ice Zone, with the big white dots of ice suspended in the Arctic. It reminded me a bit of the pattern on our Mar imekko cups…big roughly round patches staying very close together…
While flying over that beautiful landscape I was reading an interesting magazine, Womankind, and this issue was dedicated to Russia and reindeers. And life at those latitudes. Another article reminded me that the word utopia means “no-place”.
I turned to the magazine because the novel I was reading – “The Book of Great New Things” by Michel Faber – was taking a dystopian turn. I quickly realised that the unease was deeper: the climate change depicted in this sci-fi novel felt very close, and not lost in a distant future. Flying over the Arctic made this feeling even stronger. Was it beauty, what I labelled by looking outside of my window, or irreversible change…
When I came home and shared this thougths with MeinMann, he mentioned a Svalbard video he watched on Repubblica…
The feelings of impotence – what can I as a citizen do? voting is not enough, using public transport to compensate for flying is not enough, donating is not enough… – and of guilt – for sure even the packaging of these biscuits and the heating in our living room are part of the deadly equation – are a marginal fringe to our daily lives.
This morning I am bathing in these feelings, as in many other occasions, and no longer rare ones. News of unusually destructive storms are becoming mainstream. Each time we get out of our home, unusually bright parks remind us of hurricane Ela which wiped off 22,000 trees in Dusseldorf a couple of years ago. And still, we brush away these thoughts, sometimes too scared to extrapolate. We feel rather contempt in Germany because of our beautiful “long, intense Winter”. It gives us the illusion that it’s a proper Winter, and everything is fine. Unlike last year’s warm Christmas. And we long for Spring today, in the end it is March already.
We live in semi-denial, clinging to our little or big preoccupations, with occasional glimpses of extrapolation, when data about wildlife disappearing or humans affected by slow or abrupt climate change hit the news. With our massive collection of short-term actions we dismantle for the long term the environment that we – egoistically – need for our lives. With the difference that we will witness and pay the consequences of all this in the short term, ie during our lifetime, and not in some distant future. What shall we do?
Photo: The Norwegian Polar Institute