Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony Blanketed by Dust Storm

Thursday 17 January 2008

If an 'Inconvenient Truth' raised the profile of global warming to the general population, it appears that a willingness by political leaders to take appropriate action to mitigate the possible ramifications is still very much lacking. It is such a pity. No one who holds the Global Warming scenario close to heart wants to be proven 'right' - in fact no one I know who suggest that Global Warming is a serious issue even wants the chance to be proven right. Instead their desire is for action to be taken now so that the opportunity to be proven right evaporates. And still our leaders sit on their hands because the potential discomfort associated with making social changes through legislation and changing the energy and water use consumption of our nation is one they seem not prepared to face. 'Better to be

proven wrong' seems to be their mantra.

So if our political leaders remain unconvinced by the slick powerpoint movie that is 'An Inconveneint Truth' what sort of event might trigger the shift for 'action now not later' in the minds of those who make decisions on our behalf?

The headline above says it all.  I'm envisioning a wildcard event, with the eyes of the world firmly transfixed on the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, political leaders ensconsed in their cosy stadium side seats, athletes waiting for their cue to enter the stadium and TV cameras and commentators frantic with excitement, Mother Gaia puts on a show of her own.

Through years of stripping forests in an attempt to create further agricultural plains, the buffer separating the Gobi from central China has been seriously diminished.  The recent attempts by the Chinese Govt to reclaim desert tracts as the Gobi pushed ever Southward are no match for the fierce winds that began on the 4th of August 2008 in central Mongolia.  The winds in the Gobi desert which have in the past reached speeds in excess of 130kmh during spring in China are magnified due to a once unusual but now more frequent high pressure and low pressure combination centred just north of the Beijing province.

By the 6th of August Beijing was beginning to experience major air quality issues with breathing difficulties that had improved since the 'pollution shut down' of industry in early May, starting to return.  Visibility was notably diminished
 and aircraft traffic was halved as more caution was displayed by a 'brand' astute Government, keen to avoid any plane crash disasters.

On the evening of the 7th of August however a series of aborted takeoffs saw no fewer than three planes grounded due to dust particles in the airport takeoff zone shutting down engines.  Diversions from Beijing to other towns led to a tourism night mare and troubles with locals as trains servicing local populations were instead commandeered for use specifically for Olympic related tourism travel.

The winds from Mongolia gained speed and ferocity with the dusty Gobi Plains being stripped of loose surface particles and as the time for the Opening cermony neared, the world's political leaders hunkered down inside corporate hospitality suites and watched their view of the stadium vanish behind the glass.  Health fears for athletes led to panick in the holding pen with many coaches phoning their charges asking them not to march for fear of negative impacts on performance in the days ahead.

TV camera operators struggled to focus and maintain picture clarity.  Around the world images of concerned politicians and spluttering crowd members, faces masked in handerchiefs, shirt sleeves and socks were met with concern.  A greatly reduced number of athletes take to the stadium march as the horrendous conditions worsen.

State run TV begin to censor images, cutting into TV coverage with images filmed during the rehearsals two weeks earlier.  The weather settles for a moment, allowing a highly reluctant group of host nation athletes to march.  And then Mother Gaia delivers her coup de grace - with winds of 115kmh buffeting the stadium, sand and dust is clearly piling up at the feet of the stoic but frightened school children who've been performing.  Power supply to the TV networks begin to stutter and as a final image of gasping athletes - the worlds fittest and elite comes in to some form of focus, the power shuts off and the Gobi delivers its dusty payload.

The world's politicians have their answer on the need to take action delivered to their comfortable 'ring side' seats and no longer will they drag the chain on decisions that whilst uncomfortable and unsettling, are far more comfortable than the alternative emerging through continued stonewalling.  The 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony vanishes behind a wall of dust.

Let's hope I don't get a chance to be proven right.  For Beijing, the Chinese people and the rest of the world

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