Lemming anxiety

I remember a cartoon of a small furry animal sitting on a psychtherapist's couch, looking anxious, and saying to the therapist seated behind him, 'Depressed, depressed, of course, I am depressed, I am a lemming'!
I was sitting watching the people throng the streets need Grand Central Station, New York, enjoying the first real sun of Spring and the opportunity of sitting out on the pavement (as I was) talking, eating and drinking. It was a vibrant city scene.

But I had a jaundiced day, was feeling confused and uncertain, and so had come out to relax and brought my current book for company, that and the opportunities to people watch, over a glass of wine.

Mistake! The book, Gavin Francis' 'True North', which is excellent, was 'now' in Greenland and he had reached a point where he touched on 'the canary in the cage' - Greenland's retreating glaciers, sliding ever more energetically into the sea, the Artic's signaling of climate change; and, his own complicities in this very journey reliant on plane (not for him, probably wisely, St Brendan's calf-skin boat, one of the explorer's whose lives he vividly recreates).

Suddenly this stark reminder, and my own mood, reminded me of the cartoon and now we were all lemmings slowly massing to our own collapse!

If there was a moment in the day that captured it, it was a casual remark from my companion that yesterday the building we were in had been pouring out heat, today they had switched up the volume on the air-conditioning - anything but design a world that sustainably responds to its environment, anything but perhaps be sensitive to our environment.

And the canary keeps warbling and we march on mostly obliviously and even  when you pay attention, as I do, you find surrendering your hypocrises remarkably difficult - the lemming is fated (according more to legend than biology, I think), we are not but we do behave as if we are! Beyond collapse making it necessary, I do not know how to shift my own pattern let alone anyone else's!!!

No wonder I am depressed, I am a lemming!

On a brighter note, there are always smart lemmings!


  1. Perhaps the saddest feature of the new 'climate' of environmental concern, is the extent to which people still pretend to know answers...

    I know of a local environmental agency, who two years ago moved into a splendid new building, converted for 'maximum environmental sustainability and responsiveness' (as I think the architects called it).

    They have discovered that it is achingly cold in the winter (for which they have bought a fine set of electric heaters) and punishingly hot in the summer (hence, the response of a bevy of huge electric fans). It is, if anything, rather worse than the concrete 1960s edifice they inhabited previously.

    I would prefer to believe the architects were monumentally incompetent rather than dishonest. But I guess the world's lemming tendency is only enhanced by 'sustainability experts' who don't really know their trade.....


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