Turkey Syria earthquake has a lesson for humanity about climate change – Christine Grahame
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That horrific earthquake reminded me that, no matter what challenges Scotland faces and the faultlines which run under it, we never have to face the recurring threat of our homes collapsing as we sleep. I say under Scotland because when I lived in Galloway, I experienced the slightest of earthquakes, 2.5 I think on the Richter scale, when windows shook and stuff flew off the dressing table.
We were woken up and joked that the earth had moved, but of course it had. Something approaching eight on the scale and only some 11 miles below the surface meant buildings collapsed like playing cards. Inside, so many lives were lost and amid the rubble desperate hands moved boulders aside looking for survivors.
I have shelter, water and food and live where the earth stays put. The instinct is to rush and hand in blankets and warm clothing to protect survivors from the brutal winter, but that causes its own problems of collection, distribution, transportation, and not just across continents, but on a broken road network.
Some basics such as medical supplies, tents and so on, are already on their way as they are urgently needed. For you and I to help, no matter how little, it is better to donate through agencies such as the Red Cross. When families around the world are desperately trying to phone family and friends in Turkey and Syria, hoping that they have survived, it reminds us of our common humanity and that we are all the same when push comes to shove.
It is also a reminder that we have built a fragile life on a crust protecting us from a boiling sea of liquid magma below and of tectonic plates which collide with disastrous consequences for the surface. This and the rising temperatures of our seas and climate should and must remind us that, like the dinosaurs, we are not special – though, unlike the dinosaurs, we may be the author of our own demise.
Back to the garden, where spring is definitely in the air though premature. Hardly any snow so far and the odd frost, so plant and bird life with growing daylight have opted for an early start to the year. Bulbs are up, snowdrops are flowering and I watched three cock blackbirds scrapping it out mid-air for territory.
It may be that this is a false start but the way things have been going, it may be an acceleration of the seasons. The lesson for us with these earthquakes, floods, typhoons is that Mother Earth is giving us a reality check.
The poor Turkish and Syrian people are, of course, not victims of climate change, the earthquake had nothing to do with it, but it is a timely reminder that we are passing visitors on this planet, nothing more, and while we cannot alter the course of earthquakes we can alter the course of climate change. A good visitor does not vandalise, does not litter and leaves the place as they found it, if not better.
Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale