Zahrah Nasir The term 'climate change' seems to be on almost everyone's lips these days: presidents, parliamentarians, bankers, oil companies, mega-multinationals, actors, pop singers, agriculturalists, 'Save the world' bodies in all of their various guises and so on right down to line to children who are having environmental issues drummed into them at school but, the bottom line, as usual these days, seems to have nothing at all to do with 'sustainability' but with who can reap the highest profit from 'imminent disaster'. Billions, trillions, even zillions of dollars have been invested in the 'mother of all battles' against nature's anger at humankinds crass poisoning of the world and zillions more are scheduled, so it is claimed, to follow suit and yet, on the face of things, nothing changes except the weather and the size of the fortunes amassed by scaremongers and profiteers. What could, conceivably, be incredibly efficient, ultimately low cost, alternative energy projects have, unfailingly, been instant hits at the experimental stage, garnering headline grabbing attention that, 'low cost' being the main attraction, has the increasingly cash strapped general public chomping at the bit for the product to arrive on the market in an affordable form and then.....zilch 'It', 'they', 'them', 'that' exciting new invention just disappears, the news stories evaporate, the scientists, amateur or otherwise behind ingenious alternatives to oil based fuels for example, have developed a sad habit of being bumped off and oil producing nations, along with oil extracting and marketing companies, heave a huge sigh of relief at profits secured and gleefully revert to telling us that prices must be increased, again, in an attempt at stretching fast depleting stocks of raw crude for as long as is ultimately 'possible'.....read 'profitable'. There is no arguing with the fact that climate change is happening on a global scale: Unprecedented storms, devastating winter weather in unexpected locations, increasing instances of drought in once 'wet' areas, melting glaciers, melting perma-frost, an increased number of hurricanes and tornadoes etc. Whether this worrying scenario is the direct fallout of the industrial age combined with a greedy, throwaway 'western' mindset or, more innocently, natural planetary progression, ice ages do come and go after all and the climate does go through periodic change; the dinosaur family discovered this but failed to adjust in time so paid the ultimate price... extinction wh-ich is where we are heading unless precautionary measures are taken. The thing is though; mankind is totally and utterly stupid Sometime around 1900 Lady Catherine Borland Macartney, wife of George Macartney, British Representative at Kashgar from 1890 - 1918, recorded: "Though at the present time the country is so dry that there is only enough water to supply the towns and their cultivations, yet that may not have always been so; for recently the remains of habitations have been discovered away in the desert, and deeply buried in sand, while rows of dried-up poplar trees and old river beds show where water used to flow. Something has brought about a change. Some say that the climate has become drier ever since the beginning of the Christian era, and with less water coming down from the surrounding mountains many places have dried up and consequently have had to be abandoned. Others reject the climate change theory, and have another explanation just as ingenious. According to them, the glaciers in the mountains, from which the rivers down in the plains receive their water, are enormous in size; in fact far too enormous to be accounted for by the comparatively scanty snow and rainfall of the present time. Therefore these glaciers must have been relics of a former age, of some glacial period for instance. None the less, big as they are, they are nothing like as big as they once were, owing to the melting that has gone on; and, as a consequence, the amount of water they now supply to the rivers has diminished accordingly." Naturally this redoubtable lady wasn't alone in her 'climate change' observations of the Tian Shan, the Pamir, Karakoram and Himalayan mountain ranges yet, it is only recently, that Chinese scientists, along with their counterparts in Pakistan, India and Nepal are taking the subject of 'possibly' retreating glaciers seriously with some findings, mainly based on unreliable satellite images as few 'explorers' venture into these regions on foot nowadays, suggesting their imminent disappearance and others insisting that, all measures being examined on an equal basis, nothing much has altered at all The glacier conundrum aside, however, generations of people all around the planet, particularly those working the land, on which we all ultimately depend, for a living, have always been aware and, if not, folk-history tells them, that climatic conditions are unsettled at the best of times, that, biblically speaking, it is possible for seven years of plenty to be followed by seven years of drought, famines and plagues, yet few, if any, and none thinking long-term, have shifted into 'survival mode'. In times of plenty people are happy, well fed and content, in times of hardship they rant and rave as profiteers swing into action, profiteers apparently being the only seers to anticipate what lies ahead and, if 'it' fails to materialise and their glittering goal of easy money recedes towards a distant horizon then what is to prevent them inventing a conveniently lucrative 'it' in rabid 'spin doctor' fashion? To go biblical once more, although I can't for the life in me recall exactly who said this: "There is nothing new under the sun" and, I guess, that goes for climate change too yet we have all, over generations, been too insular to prepare ourselves for the inevitability of having to adjust. The writer is a freelance columnist.