To Not Be Young

Another unseasonally warm day, which isn’t a complaint. It’s excellent riding weather – warm but not hot yet, and not stuffy and dusty either, as it can get in high summer. A short faster run today, on the Colnago again. In retrospect I should have gone for a short fast spin on the fixed but 20-20 hindsight’s not exactly a great gift.

However enjoyable the weather is, I suspect you’d have to be a fool to find the spectre of climate change entering your mind.

The best explanation I’ve heard of what to expect of climate change is that it doesn’t mean totally freakish weather the like of which has never been seen before. Rather, it’s going to be a gradual underlying change, coupled with the more extreme weather ‘events’ the like of which we’ve all experienced before, happening more frequently. Which is precisely what the world is seeing. Thus, floods in such-and-such place might be just like however many years or decades ago. Indeed, there may have been worse floods or whatever before. The point is that, overall, we’re seeing more floods than we were. And the same for unusually hot weather, or unusually cold weather, or anything else unusual.

A cross against a wall

Going to your grave feeling guilty

Couple that with the rapid and relentless rise in the world’s population, growing as it does in a context of finite resources, and I’m glad I’m not young and I’m glad I’ve no children. It’s a very uncertain and very probably harsh future facing the young of the planet. It would be very unpleasant to go to your grave knowing that you’ve brought people into the world who are going to have to deal with that future. Going to the grave be damned – it would be hard to go to bed at night with that on your conscience.

Out near Twyford today, there was an oriental girl – Chinese, Japanese, Korean; I don’t know – walking along reading a letter. She was walking slowly, reading intently. News from home, from a tsunami-ravaged north Japan? Just a round-up of family news from somewhere in China? A love letter from a boyfriend, left behind thousands of miles away?

I read some time ago that even now, in this modern era of commuting and globalisation, the majority of Britons live within 10-or-so miles of where they were born. I do. There’s a vast amount of comfort to be had from familiarity.

The assumption I guess most of us would make about that oriental girl is that she’s over here working. ‘Economic migrant’ is a sneering term in Britain; I rather doubt those who employ it have even the slightest concept of the bravery involved in uprooting yourself and travelling thousands of miles to a totally unknown land to try and earn a buck, and that’s to leave aside the desperation of those who try to get to ‘the west’ the hard way – those in the back of lorries or on unseaworthy boats or whatever.

I suspect that the comfort of familiarity that comes with living close to where you were born all too often merges into ignorance and a far too narrow world view. And ignorance all too easily blends into the arrogance of certainty.