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Climate Change Fairy Tale: The Fat Bellies Mistake

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith

In a far off land there lived many people. The land was rich in resources and the climate and soil produced food in abundance. The people were smart and good at growing food and making things, so there was plenty of food and everyone could live comfortably. They were also good at helping finding ways of curing people who were sick, so people were living longer healthier lives. This was how it should have been for all the people but over the land there swept an unseen virus called ‘greed’. The people of the land became divided into three groups; Fat Bellies, Thin Bellies and the Wannabe Rich. 

The Fat Bellies decided that they wanted to have the best of everything. They were very good at producing food and all kinds of wonderful machines. Over time they got richer and richer and fatter and fatter. Using up their own resources they went and took the best of what the thin bellies had and even took some of the Thin Bellies people to work for them for nothing. The Thin Bellies ended up being the poorest and the sickest people in the land, while the Fat Bellies had so much wealth they didn’t know what to do with it all.
In time the third group of people – the Wannabe Rich, saw how well the Fat Bellies were doing and how badly the Thin Bellies were living and decided that they wanted to become Fat Bellies themselves. The Fat Bellies were not happy about this because they wanted everything for themselves. But the Wannabe Rich set about making themselves fat and rich as fast as they could. 
There was a special group of smart people called scientists who were dedicated to learning about the land and helping the people understand it. Some of them started saying that the land was suffering because of all the things that the Fat Bellies and the Wannabe Rich had done. They said that the climate was warming up and if the people did not do something soon, then the weather would change and the land might not produce enough food for the people.
So the leaders of the people gathered together in a place called Kyoto to decide what to do. The Fat Bellies argued that it was the Wannabe Rich fault because they were the ones who were getting richer faster than anyone else and messing up the land. The Wannabe Rich said it was the Fat Bellies fault because the Fat Bellies had spent many years damaging the land when they got rich. The Thin Bellies complained that all the others had taken advantage of them and they were just getting poorer and dying sooner. Even the scientists argued with each other. So no one could agree, and even though many of the people promised to do something about what was happening to the land, nothing really changed much.
As time went by things started getting worse. The weather was doing strange things and the land was changing. Many of the lakes started drying up and there was a lot of pollution that was making it hard for the people to stay healthy.
The leaders of the people decided to meet again to see what they could do about it. This time they met in a town called Copenhagen, the home of a famous story teller called Hans Christian Andersen. They hoped that some of the magic that inspired Andersen to write fairy tales would help them and they could achieve a happy ending for themselves by finding a way of making the land better again.
The problem was that while they could all agree that the land was changing they couldn’t agree what to do about it. The Fat Bellies were happy with the way things were and wanted the Wannabe Rich to stop what they were doing. The Wannabe Rich said why did they have to change? They had the right to become Fat Bellies too and the current Fat Bellies should just accept that. The Thin Bellies complained that things were only getting worse for them and that while the other two groups argued about who had the right to be rich and who had to change, they were still starving and dying. Because everyone argued and no one could agree about what to do, the special magic of Hans Christian Andersen could not work. Some of the scientists warned that this was the last chance to do something to save the land, but not many of the leaders listened to them. Many of the people protested too but the leaders ignored them as well. “How could ordinary people possibly know what to do”? They said.
Eventually the Thin Bellies died out. The Wannabe Rich died out too because even though they achieved their goal of becoming Fat Bellies and being rich, all the pollution they created to get rich killed  them off. As for the Fat Bellies who started all the problems in the first place. Well they just got richer and richer and fatter and fatter. When the land became too damaged for them to carry on living there, the richest of the Fat Bellies got into special machines called space ships which their scientists had built for them and left the land before it died completely. They went in search of new lands to live in. Unfortunately for them, unknowingly they carried with them onboard, the greed virus. They were forever doomed, because no matter how fertile and plentiful the new lands they found were and how clever their scientists were, they could find no cure for the greed virus.
It turned out that it was the Thin Bellies who had the cure for it all along. They said there had to be an even sharing of knowledge, resources and understanding among all people, only then could the greed virus be beaten. But no one listened to them because they were poor and poor people could not possibly know what to do. 
So the Fat Bellies weren’t that smart after all. For all their cleverness, all their machines and all their money, they could not solve the one problem that really mattered above everything else – how to save the land.
The natural land is the sustainer of life. It has no words to warn us when it is suffering and is unable to give us the answers to help it. It can only send us warnings through floods, famines and freaky goings on. It is up to by us to interpret what is happening and what to do about it.     
Wisdom does not belong only to those with the most toys or the biggest bank balance. Wisdom is often spoken by the poorest and most ordinary among us, or even through nature itself. To hear it all we have to do is listen. It is a shame that often those with the most power to change things are the least capable of listening.
But not to worry, this is only a fairy tale. Our leaders in real life are much smarter than the Fat Bellies in our story. They wouldn’t possibly make the same mistake. “Yeah Right” thought the little mermaid sitting serenely and looking out over the glistening harbour at her world she had lost forever and could never return to.                                                                       

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