The International Writers Magazine: Save the Planet?

James Skinner

About twenty years ago, Michael Caine, the greatly talented British film star featured in a ‘B’ rate movie called ‘Water’ filmed on the island of St Lucia camouflaged as ‘Cascara’, one of the remaining British colonies in the Caribbean.

The cast was made up of several other superb comedians such as the late and much loved Leonard Rossiter, renowned for the television series ‘Dry Rot’, who is the naive British Foreign Office official sent out from London to ‘shut down’ the island, as well as Brenda Vaccaro posing as a Guatemalan night club hostess married to the island’s British governor (Caine). Last but not least is a mention of the talented and again late Dick Shawn as the goofy sex starved film actor, who is with a television film crew that are on the island to shoot an oil company commercial. During their activities they accidentally trigger off an old oil well that is loaded with designer water. The storyline was pretty clever and although not entirely related to world ecological problems, the events that followed the discovery of the precious liquid could well be applied to what is in store for all of us in the future fight to save this planet.

Once word gets out that the equivalent of bubbly Perrier has been discovered the different greed factions of various nations take over vying for the lucrative booty that will be obtained once the liquid is bottled and placed on the market. Britain’s Margaret Thatcher nearly castrates Rossiter for trying to get rid of ‘Cascara’ whilst Caine strikes a deal with the American Oil Company to share part of the profits with the pot-smoking islanders who are mostly unemployed and couldn’t care less anyway. In the meantime, whilst word gets back to the Champs de Elysse in Paris and a ruthless bunch of French Foreign Legion mercenaries are sent out to blow up the well, Fidel Castro’s lot from Cuba try to start an independence revolution of their own. Caine eventually takes over the well with a strange lot of freedom fighters made up of ex-Beatle pop stars whilst both Britain and the US send in the troops to stop the rebellion. It is all good mayhem fun but the underlying punch line which could be construed as the serious note is the avaricious greed of today’s nations fighting over a commodity, in this case designer water. This could easily be applied to today’s raging wars and is no different to those nations that are hell bent in controlling the energy sources such as oil and gas. Strike a chord?

But let’s get back to water, the real kind.

A recent report by a British economist, Sir Nicholas Stern regarding the effect of climatic changes to the world economy would be disastrous if something was not done to remedy the problem. The planet is ‘cooking’ and among other changes, its water supply is looking for new premises. Tony Blair, British Prime Minister and Al Gore, ex-VP of the United States have quickly jumped on the bandwagon to warn us all that we, the people are a doomed lot unless we do something about. Apart from this outburst of a new music score on an old symphony, so what’s new? Somewhere in the report it states that global warming is going to cause dry rot in some parts of the planet and hyper mildew in others. Translated into English this means desserts and floods, what I would call the topsy-turvy redistribution of the earth’s water supplies. Take a look at the facts so far. The Tsunami in the Indian Ocean and ‘Katrina’ in the Caribbean are two obvious cases that drew world attention of what happens when water goes wild and how they brought all kinds of economic problems, not to speak of the dramatic human toll. But elsewhere on the planet, numerous freak storms and other upheavals have created similar although smaller havoc in some of the most remote and unsuspecting places scattered across the globe. Just in my small parish alone, a few weeks ago villages that had never before experienced a downpour were suddenly disrupted by gallons of unsuspecting rain water that caused the onslaught of sleepy rivers to suddenly go berserk and drag everything they found in their paths down to the sea. Images of cars in surrealistic ‘copulating’ positions piled up against overturned trees on the sidewalks whilst hundreds of frantic residents were seeking shelter wherever they could find it. If we switched the television over to international news, similar scenes were shown in other parts of Europe all happening at the same time.

Returning to Al Gore, he has even produced some sort of a movie (I haven’t seen it) that shows frightening scenes of the Kilimanjaro ‘before’ and ‘after’ with half it’s white roof top completely disappeared. Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck would turn over in their graves if they saw it. Similar pictures of the ice caps in the Artic sent the same message. Any third grade student in chemistry knows that ice turns into water if you heat it.

So what the hell are we going to do about it? As an old Spanish saying goes, ‘who’s going to put the bell around the cat’s neck?’ How do we stop this avalanche of planet abuse when most of us in the developed world are so used to present day consumerism that we more or less takes for granted the daily flushing of toilets, flowing of taps whilst we shower, not to mention the washing and dish-washing machines that the old ‘misses’ uses on a routine basis? The first thing to take into consideration is the simple equation of cause and effect.

Sure, we are pumping ‘shit’ for use of a better word into the atmosphere thanks to industry, cars, air-conditioning apparatus and a plethora of other gas guzzling machines which warms up those lovely blue skies. We all know this. We also know that the ‘new’ heat generated begins to melt the ‘ice’ in those remote cold spots of the earth. Any fool knows that! Everyone with two cents of a brain knows what is going on. But again, I ask what can be done about it?

We have other ‘minor’ problems going on such as the War on Terrorism, the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and if you look into the democratic part of the world, politicians everywhere, and I mean everywhere, are far too interested in partisan squabbles involving territorial gains and are just not interested in world climatic changes. Besides, they don’t create voters!

I go back to my old Michael Caine film. The residents of the fictitious island of ‘Cascara’ eventually take their case to the United Nations. With pop stars George Harrison and Ringo Star they sing a little rock song asking for the island’s independence. It is granted and they all return happy as Larry back to the island only to find the well blown up and what’s left of the effervescent water gushing out all over the place. The end result is always the same. We humans screw up the system, yet again.

Once again, say after me, ‘what can we simple poor mortals do about the world’s dramatic and apocalyptic climate and water problem?’

I’ll tell you what. Absolutely nothing, chum! Nothing!

© James Skinner. November 2006.

James in the Honorary Consul in Vigo Spain. He is not an optimist

Mex Rex Holiday
James Skinner
some empty ‘military’ cartridges fell out onto the floor



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