The hanging chad
If Al Gore had become President in 2000 – he won a head count by half a million votes – there was at least a chance the world would have united to defeat climate change. In the election of that year the electoral college was so evenly balanced the eventual result turned on the supreme court judging the validity of a handful of hanging chads in Florida. Many had voted through automated voting machines, but a few votes were declared illegitimate because the slip of paper that registered the vote, the chad, had failed to fully detach itself from the previous one, hence the hanging chad. This was the basis on which Bush, an oil millionaire from Texas, won. Twenty years on it will now take a vast, and almost certainly unlikely, a turn around in public awareness and political action if we are to save ourselves from the global horror, the hell on earth we are preparing for our children and the demise of the human and most other forms of life that the climate scientists are now so unanimously and solemnly predicting. It would take the Greek tragedians to do justice – for an ironic universal justice was their constant theme – to so vast a tragedy turning on so small a mechanical failure.