For a fortnight, COP21 dominated the news cycle. While the outcome was positive, its ascendancy obscured news that bodes badly for chocolate lovers.
As newly-weds, we shared a granny flat at the bottom of someone's garden. Obviously, Granny had carked it many moons before. The building was derelict.
Nothing worked. The water ran scalding hot and frigid but never in between, and a couple of times a week the fuse box would express its incompatibility with the twentieth century by plunging us into darkness. Before long we found a new place.
We went out to celebrate. In our haste, I neglected to switch off a bedside light. Dust, damp and dinosaurian electrics combined to strike a spark that ignited some tissues, which ignited my pillow, which ignited the rest.
Dinner was gorgeous. I had steak (well done) and she oysters. Soon signals promised that festivities would continue long into the night — or a couple of minutes of it, at least. As we strolled home hand in hand, the lights and screaming sirens of the fire engines hurtling by belonged to another world.
‘Some poor sucker’s in trouble,’ I said. And we smiled into each other’s eyes, luxuriating in the certainty that no matter how awful life was for others it could hardly get any better for us.
At that instant, we realised the lights and the noise and the hellish orange glow were coming from our place. We sprinted home and observed from behind a tape barrier as the flames lay waste to everything we had, chastened.
And so, just as fire fractured the illusion of our inviolability, we illuminate the theme of this article: joy in the positive can obscure the negative.
Kudos to Paris
With praise raining down like pieces of Russian planes, only the Heartland Institute — whose conference (also held in Paris) coincided with COP21 — would have the gall to brand the landmark deal a bad thing.
At long last there was recognition — even from that big stick-in-the-mud keeping the Atlantic and Pacific apart — that coal will die as soon as the economic drivers demand it. Once Solar and Wind are cheaper, businessmen will seize the opportunity and everyone will dance on its grave.
It’s not far in the future. But we shouldn't get too carried away. Before the world changes for the good, a lot of bad has to happen.
In Ivory Coast, failing rainfall due to global warming is decimating the cocoa crop. Farmers are harvesting smaller beans of lower quality. Limiting the warming to 1.5 C isn’t going to stop it.
Cocoa expert Christophe Douca says there is a risk that cocoa production will collapse. Understandably, he, the farmers and the country as a whole are worried. And we should be, too. If climate change has anything to teach us, it’s that we’re in this together.
Producers in the $80 billion chocolate economy are already among the most vulnerable people on earth. Typically, cocoa is grown alongside food crops by subsistence farmers. It pays the bills. But that’s it. Many live below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.
The pittance paid them is one of the reasons we can afford to decimate boxes of the stuff over Christmas. As we fill our faces, we might ponder the consequences as 33 percent of the world’s cocoa is lost.
The deal in Paris bodes well to recognise that economics will drive the world to sustainable practices, but we should nevertheless prepare ourselves for changes already in motion that might not be easy to swallow.
Not everyone is going to cop it sweet.