Thursday, September 10, 2009

Heart of oak

Three days ago I read how rising sea levels are likely to affect at least twenty million people in Bangladesh. The challenge will be enormous, and perhaps there is much more to come.

I am concerned, but it doesn't hit me on an emotional level in the same way as the relatively minor possibility (here via here) that oak trees in Britain are likely to be severely affected by mid century.

My reaction may be morally indefensible: shouldn't I care about people more, however remote from own temporarily privileged position?

If there is a rationale, then perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we may lose trees that have thrived on these islands since the last Ice Age, whereas the vast numbers of people now living in the lowest lying parts of Bangladesh have only come there in the last few decades as a result of a population explosion and land shortage elsewhere. The oak trees have resonance in the mind of those who know and love these lands in part because as living forms they express slow change over long periods of time.

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