In the first line of his 1922 poem “The Waste Land,” American poet T. S. Eliot famously declared that “April is the cruellest month.”
That may be so, but May 2010 will go down as the warmest, so far.
“The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for May was the warmest on record, at 1.24°F (0.69°C) above the 20th century average of 58.6°F (14.8°C),” according to press release issued by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“Worldwide average land surface temperature for May and March-May was the warmest on record while the global ocean surface temperatures for both May and March-May were second warmest on record, behind 1998.”
As the world heats up, the race — and perhaps the political will — to find solutions to anthropogenic global warming is cooling off. The recent United Nations climate change negotiations in Bonn produced little but continued inaction and growing frustration.
“The U.N. talks made limited progress overall, but plenty of conflicts remain,” said Annie Petsonk, international counsel for Environmental Defense Fund, in an EDF press release.
“The discouraging news is that even as the BP oil disaster continued to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico, some oil-exporting countries — including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar — were so desperate to protect the oil industry that they blocked efforts to expand studies of the climate change problem,” Petsonk said.
According to Climate-L.org, “Many parties and civil society representatives expressed ‘deep disappointment’ at the outcome.”
One of the most important poems of the 20th century, “The Waste Land” is a far-reaching exploration of the universal sense of disillusionment and despair that followed World War I. Its final line is “Shantih shantih shantih.”
In Sanskrit, shantih means peace — a word that is uttered three times at the end of every Shantih mantra. Each utterance, according to the scriptures of Hinduism, is an attempt to eliminate the barrier that exists in each of the three realms where trouble lie — the physical, the internal and the divine — in order to achieve a sense of calm before a task is accomplished.
Perhaps the 2,900 Bonn participants might consider these three words before their next climate change meeting. Because if global temperatures continue their seemingly inexorable rise, the world will become a waste land, and it won’t be just April that’s the cruellest of the months.