Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Weather Report from Serbia

The following is by Jasmina Tesanovic, a guest commentator on Bruce Sterling's wonderful Viridian newsletter. Sterling says he is about to end the newsletter, since its topic -- global warming -- is now in the headlines. But I haven't seen this story in the headlines here in Minneapolis.

Today was the hottest day in Serbia ever since the
temperature has been measured, 45 C.

If we Serbs were truly interested in our survival as
a nation, we'd be scrambling to get some modern
hardware for dealing with ecological catastrophes.
It's been ten years since Milosevic sold off our
forest fire-fighting aircraft and pocketed the money.

We would talk together seriously about last year's
massive floods throughout the Danube basin, about
this year's deadly heat wave in Serbia and throughout
the Balkans, about the state of emergency in our
neighbor Greece, about the electricity shortages
and blackouts throughout the region, about the
woods of our homeland set on fire.

Even tidy Britain is being overwhelmed with their
flood catastrophes, while here in Serbia we lack
any organized emergency-response because the
Serbian state is, by its nature, in an emergency
situation all the time...

The Russians promised us practical help for the
smoldering forests of the border, but they have yet
to send a single Russian helicopter. Meanwhile the
firemen and local peasants are saving our burning
forest heritage with raw courage and mostly hand-tools.

When will we overcome our local obsessions and
realize we are part of a world in a general crisis?
The climate crisis isn't for rich countries, it's
for every country. Especially us. We had Floods
in 2006, now Fires in 2007 == the cause is in the
Air, and we will end up with no Earth.

Global warming is invisible... it steals up on us
like a slow fever, but our daily lives are being
transformed by it. Kids can't get milk at school,
eggs might be poisoned with salmonella, the crops
are wilting in the fields.

My friend, a pianist, sews clothes by her
air-conditioner instead of playing her piano.

I am singing after dark instead of writing at noon.

My friend is writing a book about the future but
is not sure if it is the same book he started anymore...

Year by year, mankind is becoming justly afraid of
our vengeful climate. I have an epiphany: our
world in 1999 is becoming all the world. No
electrical, no water, no business-as-usual: fear.
I remember those bombing days of Serbia and Kosovo
when everyone in this land, without exception,
was a refugee under a scowling enemy sky.


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