The devil's ultimate conundrum

By Mark Dowd
June 24, 2009

How do you campaign on an issue like climate which requires the long view and can be complicated?

I bumped into an old BBC news colleague on a Climate Rush bicycle event a fortnight ago.

More than 500 cyclists gathered outside Chatham House at a coal industry conference before spending a crazy two hours whizzing around central London taking in international climate criminal sites.

He was there with his wife and children and I was talking to him about the difficulty of campaigning on what for many, is still an abstract, long term issue. This is how I put it:

"If the devil wanted to give humanity the ultimate conundrum, it would be about invisible gases, allegedly affecting people on the other side of the world at a time in the future we can't be sure of. And by the time we get our head around that and begin to take urgent action, such is the built-in momentum on the climate system in terms of global heating, that runaway climate change will be impossible to stop."

Now he asked me where the quote came from and I know I read it in a book in the last twelve months, but then I have read so many times now on climate change, so a challenge for you:

a) Think and meditative on this. Is it true?

b) Source the quotation and send it to us. We’ll get it back to BBC news.


(c) Mark Dowd is campaign strategist for Operation Noah ( He is well-known for his TV documentaries on the environment and other issues.

This is one of a series of reflections Mark (, political economist Ann Pettifor and others are writing for Ekklesia in the run-up to the Copenhagen Conference ( in December 2009.

Learn more about the ARK Campaign and send Gordon Brown an origami ARK at

Church Action Starter Pack for climate change is here

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