A recent report from the MET office [the UK government meteorological service] said that global temperatures could rise by 4 degrees centigrade by 2060. Were that to happen the results would be countless diasasters, starvation, drought in some areas, flooding in others. In fact, it would be all the catastrophic things we have been hearing about for the last few years.

Richard Betts of the Met Office Hadley Centre described himself as “shocked” that so much warming could occur within the lifetimes of people alive today.

“If greenhouse gas emissions are not cut soon then we could see major climate changes within our own lifetimes,” he said.

“Four degrees of warming averaged over the globe translates into even greater warming in many regions, along with major changes in rainfall.”

The model finds wide variations, with the Arctic possibly seeing a rise of up to 15C (27F) by the end of the century.

Western and southern parts of Africa could warm by up to 10C, with other land areas seeing a rise of 7C or more.

Let’s be clear about this…this report is coming from the MET office – an arm of the British Government. Bizarre then that other sectors of the British government are doing their best to avoid doing anything about it or at least postpone it so it is someone else’s problem.

Apparently the oldest known version of the story of the Dutch boy with his fingers in the dike is English. Here, we join it somewhere in the middle and I have edited it down a little for the sake of brevity…

…he noticed how the autumn rains had swollen the waters. Even while humming his careless, childish song, he thought of his father’s brave old gates and felt glad of their strength, for, thought he, ‘If they gave way, where would Father and Mother be? These pretty fields would all be covered with the angry waters – Father always calls them the angry waters. I suppose he thinks they are mad at him for keeping them out so long.’ And with these thoughts just flitting across his brain, the little fellow stooped to pick the pretty flowers that grew along his way.

Suddenly the boy looked around him in dismay. He hadn’t noticed that the sun was setting. He quickened his footsteps and, with a beating heart recalled many a nursery tale of children belated in dreary forests. Just as he was bracing himself for a run, he was startled by the sound of trickling water. He looked up and saw a small hole in the dike through which a tiny stream was flowing. Any child in Holland will shudder at the thought of a leak in the dike! The boy understood the danger. That little hole, if the water were allowed to trickle through, would soon be a large one, and a terrible inundation would be the result.

Quickly, he saw his duty. Throwing away his flowers, the boy clambered up the heights until he reached the hole. His chubby little finger was thrust in. The flowing was stopped! Ah! he thought, with a chuckle of boyish delight, the angry waters must stay back now! Haarlem shall not be drowned while I am here!

This was all very well at first, but the night was falling rapidly.  Our little hero began to tremble with cold and dread. He screamed, ‘Come here! come here!’ but no one came. The cold grew more intense, a numbness crept over his hand and arm, and soon his whole body was filled with pain. He shouted again, ‘Will no one come? Mother! Mother!’ Alas, his mother had already locked the doors and resolved to scold him on the morrow for spending the night with blind Jansen without her permission. He tried to whistle. Perhaps some straggling boy might heed the signal, but his teeth chattered so, it was impossible. Then he called on God for help. And the answer came, through a holy resolution: ‘I will stay here till morning.’

How can we know the sufferings of that long and fearful watch – what falterings of purpose, what childish terrors came over the boy as he thought of the warm little bed at home, of his family, then looked into the cold, dreary night! If he drew away that tiny finger, the angry waters, grown angrier still, would rush forth, and never stop until they had swept over the town. No, he would hold it there till daylight – if he lived! He was not very sure of living. What did this strange buzzing mean? And then the knives that seemed pricking and piercing him from head to foot? He was not certain now that he could draw his finger away, even if he wished to.

At daybreak a clergyman  thought he heard groans as he walked along on the top of the dike. Bending, he saw, far down on the side, a child apparently writhing with pain.

‘In the name of wonder, boy,’ he exclaimed, ‘what are you doing there?’

‘I am keeping the water from running out,’ was the simple answer of the little hero. ‘Tell them to come quick.’

It is needless to add that they did come quickly.

So goes the legend.

Unfortunately, one boy with a finger in the dike won’t help places like  Holland and Bangladesh this time, especially not when the representatives of other countries are actually standing on top of the dike and pissing on them.

*This article also appears at World News Trust



  1. With the insolvency of the auto manufacturers governments in the US and EU could have made bail outs contingent on converting production to buses/trains – that they didn’t demonstrates their failure to understand the consequences of global warming.

  2. TOT (tangentially on topic), here is a genuinely Dutch folk tale which evidently made some impression on me when I read it as a child, in slightly different form, under the title “The Lady’s Sand”.

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