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Sunday, 10 November 2013

Typhoon

10,000 are reported dead in the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan hit the country. The tragic irony is that climate change - yes, climate change is to blame - has almost disappeared from world political discussions. As John Vidal wrote in The Guardian on Friday 8 Nov.: "From being top of the global political agenda just four years ago, climate change is now barely mentioned by the political elites in London or Washington, Tokyo or Paris. Australia is not even sending a junior minister to Warsaw [the next conference on climate]. The host, Poland, will be using the meeting to celebrate its coal industry." In the long term, this means great economic, social and environmental turmoil everywhere, including in Europe, as politicians should constantly be reminded of.

On the literary side, here is a short passage from Joseph Conrad's Typhoon, one of his best novels:
"Observing the steady fall of the barometer, Captain MacWhirr thought, "There's some dirty weather knocking about." This is precisely what he thought. He had had an experience of moderately dirty weather—the term dirty as applied to the weather implying only moderate discomfort to the seaman. Had he been informed by an indisputable authority that the end of the world was to be finally accomplished by a catastrophic disturbance of the atmosphere, he would have assimilated the information under the simple idea of dirty weather, and no other, because he had no experience of cataclysms, and belief does not necessarily imply comprehension. The wisdom of his county had pronounced by means of an Act of Parliament that before he could be considered as fit to take charge of a ship he should be able to answer certain simple questions on the subject of circular storms such as hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons; and apparently he had answered them, since he was now in command of the Nan-Shan in the China seas during the season of typhoons. But if he had answered he remembered nothing of it. He was, however, conscious of being made uncomfortable by the clammy heat. He came out on the bridge, and found no relief to this oppression. The air seemed thick. He gasped like a fish, and began to believe himself greatly out of sort."

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