The Governor of the Bank of England said earlier this week “the challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance compared with what might come”.
“Baked Alaska” vividly illustrates those challenges. The Riding Lights Theatre Company’s show moves from Alaska, to the Niger Delta, the Pacific island of Nauru and finally Bangladesh to illustrate the impact of living with the unpredictable effects of climate change. Yet Pope Francis recently observed ”there is widespread indifference to the suffering of the poor who live in areas particularly affected by global warming”.
In a hilarious scene Mr. and Mrs. Average are being sold Emotional Health Protection Insurance as they prepare to visit Bangladesh. Compassion sickness pills are dismissed as not strong enough when venturing outside Europe and instead inoculation is recommended to stimulate the emotional immune system and prevent an outbreak of any real concern when experiencing the impact of “climate variability” on poor people.
Arriving in Bangladesh Mrs. Average, relying on a Guidebook 20 years out of date, is faced with the impact of cyclone Aila that sent a ten-foot wall of water roaring through the delta in 2009. She meets Jahanara who recounts how after dysentery became rife and afflicted her husband, she fell into the hands of loan sharks and had to sell her 13 year old daughter and 11 year old son into bonded labour in a brick works. Jahanara’s husband died 2 years later. Jahanara says climate change can be ruthless and is surprised to hear from Mrs. Average that it is not a major concern in London, but concludes that its harder for Mrs. Average because she can’t see carbon emissions warming the earth or making the sea level rise.
The show is touring the country in the run up to the Intergovernmental talks on climate change starting at the end of November in Paris. If you get the opportunity do go and see it. You can check out the trailer online.