Sponsored Poetry: The Latest UN Initiative to Make Us Act on Climate Change

Vogon Poetry

Humans being tortured using poetry read by a green alien. Source: Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (video clip here).

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The UN hopes Marshall Islands Activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner’s sponsored poetry readings will convince us to get rid of our cars and switch off our home heating.

Can poetry turn the tide on climate change?


Poetry seems an unlikely avenue for forcing action on climate change, but Marshallese poet and activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner has become a figure of hope for a nation under threat of rising sea levels.

It was her address at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit that brought wider attention to Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner as a poet and activist, as well as the peril faced by the Marshall Islands and other pacific nations. Speaking as a Civil Society Representative, Jetnil-Kijiner described the dangers faced by oceanic nations in eloquent terms and implored world leaders to act quickly on climate change.

She subsequently performed her poem Dear Matafele Peinem, written as a promise to her daughter that the world would take action on climate change. The stirring call to arms and promise to future generations received a standing ovation on the UN floor.

Jetnil-Kijiner will appear at WOMADelaide this year in a Planet Talk titled Climate Justice and the Human Face of Climate Change with Ursula Rakova, Julian Burnside, Tim Costello and Ben Doherty.

“The thing that people need to understand is that the Marshall Islands is only two metres above sea level,” says Jetnil-Kijiner of her island home. “Because of the rising sea level, we’re getting floods that are destroying homes and destroying crops. It’s happening more frequently but also threatening the very existence of our islands. It’s been happening in the past five years more frequently than we’ve ever seen before. It’s happening right now. With the loss of the land comes the loss of cultural identity and our home and basically who we are as a people.”

Read more: https://www.adelaidereview.com.au/features/general/can-poetry-turn-tide-climate-change/

If you want to see Kathy live, Kathy will speak this March in Adelaide, Capital of South Australia.

I listened to half a minute Kathy’s poetry reading to the UN (see the video clip above). I think I prefer the poetry written by the fictional green alien from The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

93 thoughts on “Sponsored Poetry: The Latest UN Initiative to Make Us Act on Climate Change

  1. Well ….it is going on four years now …..
    have the islands been swamped or turned over yet ?

    • Which brings up and interesting fact…
      If it can tip over….it’s floating

      …that would fly right over Hank Johnson’ head

    • Well, I have it on good authority the Marshalls will sink… it’s Guam what will turn over ’cause of all the weight of too many peoples.

  2. There once was a Paris Climate Accord
    Which the United States could not afford!
    Our new President Trump
    threw the Accord in the dump
    And the Socialist world squealed as if fatally gored!

    • And so we’ve been Gored and Mann-handled too long.
      And “Going Green” without “green” is going to ground.
      But, beware, Oh, my friends!
      They’ve not given up! No, not at all!
      Watch for the next thing that sticks to the wall!

      • Greenies who love to harass
        tossed nuclear out on its ass.
        Wind turbines all rusted,
        and solar is busted,
        but they manage to pass natural gas.

  3. I’ve got a poem she can recite (with apologies to those who’ve already seen it)

    Mother Goose on Climate Prediction

    As record winds blow
    Unprecedented snow,
    Oh, where is our globe a’ warming?
    That depends on the sun
    And the ways oceans run,
    Plus clouds (with complexity) forming!

    Now, for quite long,
    Climate models are wrong.
    So, what caused the pause in the warming?
    Yes, look to the sun,
    The ways oceans run,
    And the clouds, in complexity forming.

    CO2 is “too small”
    To stop temperature’s fall
    When the sun, clouds and oceans together,
    Begin to cause cold
    In cycles so old…
    No one alive can remember!

    So if I do some harm
    By just keeping warm,
    You’ll have to kindly forgive me!
    I find my solution
    Makes carbon pollution;
    Lest Gaia too quickly outlives me!

  4. Good thing her ancestors learned how to sail.
    I’ll go out on a limb and posit that’s probably how they arrived at their present location.

  5. There once was a climate denier
    Whom everyone said was a liar
    They heckled and booed
    And we’re terribly rude
    So he froze them and put out the fire

  6. You know the climate alarmists are getting desperate when they start calling upon poets to make their case. Who listens to poets even at the best of times?

    • Could be worse – they could have trotted out a mime. Maybe that’s next. He could mime drowning due to sea level rise of 1.75″ or catching on fire because of a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees.

    • ‘And we are the dreamers of dreams,
      Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
      And sitting by desolate streams;—
      World-losers and world-forsakers,
      On whom the pale moon gleams:
      Yet we are the movers and shakers
      Of the world for ever, it seems…’

      O’Shaughnessey – 1873

  7. Her poetry does not change the fact that the climate change we have been experiencing is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has no control. But she need not worry because if Mother Nature has her way, based on what has been happening in the past, in a few thousand years we will be desending into another ice age and sea levels will start to lower as more ice on land accumulates. If she does not like the climate where she lives she should move to somewhere else. Maybe marginal areas would be better off left as nature preserves.

  8. It’s just desperation – she has a college class and the assignment is a poem on something socially relevant. I know this feeling, I’ve been desperate trying to write poetry

  9. Eric, here’s one that dates back to 2015 called “Coming Out On Climate”

    Authority figures, foretelling
    Hot doom (and our “myths” dispelling),
    Cast great dispersions
    On skeptical versions
    (Which keep carbon credits from selling)!

    Now, shriller and louder they’re yelling,
    To drown out the doubters’ rebelling!
    New taxes are “just”
    When you’ve gained public trust,
    So “the questioners” (quickly) they’re quelling.

    I’ve arrived at this realization;
    Our industrial civilization
    Can only be sin
    If the ‘green’ Marxists win-
    On their platform of demonization!

    [The mods quote Poe’s raven, “Evermore Motion!” .mod]

  10. “Odyssey from Africa (and the Adventures of Ipiki)” is an epic narrative poem telling the story behind the 60,000 years-ago exodus of modern humans from Africa that populated the rest of the world.

    The poem’s meter is that of American poet Henry W Longfellow’s “Hiawatha”, i.e. inverse iambic tetrameter, in his epic poem about a mythical native north American hero – both poems are a similar length. Odyssey from Africa is a rare example of an “action poem” telling a story in which the climate is a player. While not overtly political, the poem makes it clear that violent swings of natural climate change took place in ancient history, far more extreme than anything experienced or even “projected” by today’s politically/financially motivated prophets of AGW disaster.

    Thus in a subversive way it makes a case for climate skepticism by putting recent climate change in historical context.

    It’s available as paperback and kindle; on the kindle link (“look inside”) the first few chapters can be read for free.


  11. Climate sceptic numpties should appreciate every effort being made to highlight AGW. The last three years have been the hottest trio ever seen, with 2017 the hottest year on record without the El Nino boost. In addition, 17 of the 18 hottest years recorded since 1850 have occurred since 2000.

    So, the evidence is staring you in the face that climate change is impacting this planet so I raise my glass to Marshallese poet and activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner – at least she isn’t sitting in front of a computer flagrantly denying what is going on around her:


      • Ed, pay attention. ARCTIC SUMMERS HAVE NOT BEEN ABOVE NORMAL. The anomalous winter temperatures are still below freezing. The sea ice will never disappear as long as the summers stay normal and the winters stay below freezing. However, come August maybe Mr. Worrall might remind us of your prediction and review its accuracy.

      • I believe increased Arctic sea ice is consistent with the Greenhouse Theory. I deduce this from the fact that there haven’t been a single weather event or other phenomena that would not be predicted by Hansen in 1988 in his holy writings called ‘testimony’.

        Griff, I’m ready for a bet of €500 that the Arctic does not make a new minimum in next September.

        The winter is mild here. That means the seawater cools down since it is not protected by snow.

    • Ivan
      Presumably you are a denier that climate ever changed prior to the industrial revolution. This assumption is of course implicit in the use of the phrase “pre-industrial”. That would include also your denial of ice ages. But hey – it’s only those fossil fuel industry funded geologists who invent fictions like ice ages, so “progressives” climate scientists would necessarily deny ice ages also.

    • Ivan,

      Are you trying to drum up some hits on your blog by posting a link on the most read science blog on the net?

      Hey everyone,

      I wasted a click to see that there’s really nothing on his blog to see that hasn’t been said already been said ad nauseam.

    • Yes, 2017 was a whole .04 C warmer than 2015. Too bad the error bars are .1 C, making that difference irrelevant. And I love how they asterisk the El Nino years. “2017 Hottest Year Evah*” (*except El Nino years). Except for everyone taller than me, I am the tallest person in the room.
      Here is the NASA GISS temperature data. See how small the yearly differences are compared to the error bar:

    • Oh, lookey, dear Ivankinsman comes out from under his rock to add nothing new to the conversation. Now, in a normal conversation, I would take the time to make some counterpoint arguments to your comments, but having seen how completely, illogically blinkered you are on the subject of AGW, I will not waste my time.

      I will only say this.

      That’s an impressive religion you practice.

  12. They’ll be up there on the roof bolting on the solar panes, before Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner has got half way through her Ode to a Wind-Turbine. They will be screaming out, “I’ll fit an Elon Musk battery too if she’ll just shut up now!”

  13. WOMADelaide 2018
    Annual iconic 4-day festival celebrating a World of Music, Arts and Dance. Botanic Park, Adelaide, South Australia.

    Give her cerdit it is a long way to swim or canoe for anyone , for I am sure that they did not use the ‘evil planet killing ‘ airplanes to get there.

  14. I think Ewan McTeagle’s poetry could be easily adapted to the cause. One such masterpiece is “Can I have fifty pounds to mend the shed?”:

    “Can I have fifty pounds to mend the shed? I’m right on my uppers. I can pay you back when this postal order comes from Australia. Honestly. Hope the bladder trouble’s getting better. Love, Ewan.”

    Or even this classic :

    “Oh give to me a shillin’ for some fags and I’ll pay yet back on Thursday, but if you can wait till Saturday I’m expecting a divvy from the Harpenden Building Society. ”

    Thanks to Monty Python:

  15. It would have been better if she had started it with “Son, I am a nasty woman…” That phrase works every time, like magic.

  16. No one seems to remember that Al Gore did it first. In his 2009 book “Our Choices” he penned a bleak poem on the coming Thermogedden. He gave the Vogons a run for their money.

    • So here’s an Algoryhm in his honor-
      Pinwheels and Mirrors

      A long time ago (in the 80’s or so),
      Al Gore warned that warming would soon be alarming;
      “Our children won’t know what it’s like to see snow!
      Our atmosphere we must stop harming!”

      He’d studied, in college, on James Hansen’s knowledge.
      Then, over years of political careers,
      He pondered this notion: The atmosphere and oceans
      Are useful to raise public fears.

      He made presentations to all the world’s nations.
      His film (sci-fi trash) was a box office smash!
      Academy sensation! Oscars, nominations
      And copious currents of cash!

      Then unto him fell the Peace Prize, Nobel…
      Authority, on him was now vested.
      (Debates he must quell, for he knows quite well:
      Models failed when reality tested.)

      So, grew the meme of anthropogenic extreme.
      While insiders profited highly,
      Those who objected were quickly subjected
      To ridicule (and regarded vilely).

      Pinwheels and mirrors now litter the lands…
      Power lines, mile after mile.
      On high plains, sea cliffs and desert sands
      Our vistas, they now beguile.

      But, collectors of government subsidies
      Find them a beautiful sight,
      These mechanical menaces… begging a breeze
      Or a sunbeam to make their cost right.

      Decades upcoming threaten cold’s icy numbing-
      Nature’s cycles, in concert, are waning.
      The slowness to warm should have cancelled alarm,
      But Al never ceases campaigning:

      “We humans are bad, with our fossil fuel fad,
      It’s a fast-building carbon disaster!
      And now it’s two-fold! It’s causing the cold
      And the hotness to come so much faster!”

      Yet, while he’s pleading that all should be heeding
      His carbon reduction ambitions,
      He hopes you’re not seeing his own footprint being
      Hundreds of poor folks’ emissions.

      Let’s hope he’s thought out, while jetting about,
      The messages of his actions.
      By far they outweigh any words he might say,
      In the minds of the wiser factions.

  17. Lets have some proper poetry:

    A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
    Its loveliness increases; it will never
    Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
    A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
    Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
    Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
    A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
    Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
    Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
    Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
    Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
    Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
    From our dark spirits.

    • Yes. Or this:
      I would not be just a muffin’,
      My head all full of stuffin’,
      My heart all full of pain;
      And perhaps I’d deserve you and be
      Even worthy even you
      If I only had a brain.

      It could be your anthem.

    • Griff, your poetry (I’m assuming you composed) conveys deep depression and the need to save your personal world from the terrible dregs of humanity. I also find the over use of idioms to be trite unless the composition is intended to be humorous irony. Just my opinion.

      • Hmm- my assumption that you had some talent was wrong. I can see why you chose that Keats poem. It fits you

    • Griff
      Nice but a little opaque – for me at least.
      Here’s one I like:

      By Percy Bysshe Shelley

      I met a traveller from an antique land,
      Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
      Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
      Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
      And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
      Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
      Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
      The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
      And on the pedestal, these words appear:
      My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
      Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
      Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
      Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
      The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

  18. ‘For the stronger we our houses do build,
    The less chance we have of being killed.’

    William Topaz McGonagall

  19. There are people who believe that the end of the Cold War was brought about by an arts movement. You can’t fix stupid.

  20. The better question is whether poetry can generate a stream of indulgence payments for new tourism assets like airports, high rise condos, and resorts.

  21. I would suggest writing the poetry in Mandarin and delivering it to the Chinese Ministry of Coal with a copy sent to the comparable Indian ministry.

  22. We thought we were missing some heat
    even though our model’s complete.
    So we’ll add some cool fuzz
    if it turns out that it was
    missing heat that was missing, not heat.

  23. I thought Forest Gardener would post this, but I’ll do it for him.

    SAID HANRAHAN by John O’Brien

    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    In accents most forlorn,
    Outside the church, ere Mass began,
    One frosty Sunday morn.

    The congregation stood about,
    Coat-collars to the ears,
    And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
    As it had done for years.

    “It’s looking crook,” said Daniel Croke;
    “Bedad, it’s cruke, me lad,
    For never since the banks went broke
    Has seasons been so bad.”

    “It’s dry, all right,” said young O’Neil,
    With which astute remark
    He squatted down upon his heel
    And chewed a piece of bark.

    And so around the chorus ran
    “It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”

    “The crops are done; ye’ll have your work
    To save one bag of grain;
    From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke
    They’re singin’ out for rain.

    “They’re singin’ out for rain,” he said,
    “And all the tanks are dry.”
    The congregation scratched its head,
    And gazed around the sky.

    “There won’t be grass, in any case,
    Enough to feed an ass;
    There’s not a blade on Casey’s place
    As I came down to Mass.”

    “If rain don’t come this month,” said Dan,
    And cleared his throat to speak –
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “If rain don’t come this week.”

    A heavy silence seemed to steal
    On all at this remark;
    And each man squatted on his heel,
    And chewed a piece of bark.

    “We want an inch of rain, we do,”
    O’Neil observed at last;
    But Croke “maintained” we wanted two
    To put the danger past.

    “If we don’t get three inches, man,
    Or four to break this drought,
    We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”

    In God’s good time down came the rain;
    And all the afternoon
    On iron roof and window-pane
    It drummed a homely tune.

    And through the night it pattered still,
    And lightsome, gladsome elves
    On dripping spout and window-sill
    Kept talking to themselves.

    It pelted, pelted all day long,
    A-singing at its work,
    Till every heart took up the song
    Way out to Back-o’-Bourke.

    And every creek a banker ran,
    And dams filled overtop;
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “If this rain doesn’t stop.”

    And stop it did, in God’s good time;
    And spring came in to fold
    A mantle o’er the hills sublime
    Of green and pink and gold.

    And days went by on dancing feet,
    With harvest-hopes immense,
    And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
    Nid-nodding o’er the fence.

    And, oh, the smiles on every face,
    As happy lad and lass
    Through grass knee-deep on Casey’s place
    Went riding down to Mass.

    While aound the church in clothes genteel
    Discoursed the men of mark,
    And each man squatted on his heel,
    And chewed his piece of bark.

    “There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
    There will, without a doubt;
    We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”
    Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921

  24. So, in other words, this is the UN’s latest attempt to subvert our sovereignty and fleece our nation.

  25. His name is Griffin. Folks though call him “Griff”
    He hails from universities of stone
    Debate with him is as a smoken spliff
    It leaves one’s mental faculties undone

    For high o’er land and sea and distant isles
    The eye of Griff doth wander wide and free
    All he beholds, his intellect defiles
    Dreaming disaster from the rings of trees

    The seas do rise – we’re told – to drown our coasts
    Though photos of past bays show nary a change
    Griff terrifies the kids with tales of ghosts
    That steal the frost from every mountain range

    Beholding life, he see-eth only death
    In forms of beauty, veiled catastrophe
    And morbid gas in every human breath
    Damns sinners to a lost eternity

    But that dread gas – O Griff! How see-est thou not
    Bringeth not death but life, that springeth green
    The photosynthesis thou hast forgot
    Is nourished by the thing thou call’st unclean

    And so adieu, my ode to Griff is done
    To that sly master of the shifting files
    Of numbers spelling our Armeggedon
    And yet behind that mask of doom – he smiles!

  26. Battle of the Flood
    What a party we had last night
    at old Ceasaro’s shack
    The dancing girls were dressed in drag
    and the servants all wore black
    The band played military tunes
    and the wine was spiked with blood
    The chandeliers were draped with lace
    you could hardly even see the flood
    We toasted every word we spoke
    just to see if it could be done
    We giggled when the lights went out
    somebody said there goes the sun
    Ya shoulda seen the things I saw
    for a moment I was Elmer Fudd
    With cwazy wabbits everywhere
    even dead ones floatin’ in the flood
    The generator kicked in thank god
    right on cue festivities resumed
    If that old Ceasaro knows anything
    it’s how to keep a body nicely entombed
    When the saints come marchin’ in played on
    china chimin’ in at every base drum thud
    We rocked to the rhythm like a cradle of love
    it was almost like before the flood
    When the band struck up that old ang syne
    not and eye in the joint stayed dry
    We rocked to the rhythm like a cradle of love
    better buddies you just can’t buy
    That old Ceasaro sure does it up right
    silver crystal and a red rose bud
    Just the ticket for keepin’ a spirit afloat
    in the battle of the goddamn flood

  27. Poetry and art are casualties of modern erosion of morality, education, language, freedom of thought – basically destruction of western culture and replacement with homogenized and sterilized vetted commandments on what can be taught, thought and done. knowledge crafted and bounded.

    I had the experience of seeing prewar statues of hardworking heroes with sickle and sheaves of grain staring off into a bright future following the shining path made for them by the same brand but new central planners that are destroying the greatest civilization ever.

    Ironically, the best of cultural Europe will end up being preserved in Russia and the other former Iron Curtain countries despite all the liberal propaganda that aims to destroy that country’s image. The Eurocrats and the Democrats who threw their lot in with them would have loved Russia much more than China. However Russia would not go along with the Big Plan like China pretends to do (big letdown in their admirerers’ near future!). Russia is at least honest in its rejection of Europes model for global governance.

  28. The Lay of the Last Molecule

    With apologies to Sir Walter Scott

    Breathes there the ‘cule, with form so foul,
    What to force the consensus to howl,
    “This, the cause of all heat in the land!”
    Th’idea, despite no fuel, e’er did burn
    And many a good scientiest did turn,
    From seeking fact upon which to stand!
    If such theory assaults you, mark it well;
    For it, no Nobel raptures swell;
    High though its budgets, proud its name,
    Boundless wealth its adherents claim;
    Despite those models showing aught but highs,
    This wretch, concentred all in lies,
    Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
    And, doubly dying, shall go down
    To the vile dust, from whence it sprung,
    Unwept, unhonor’d, and unsung.


  29. The lovely young lady got to speak at the UN. She will also get the opportunity to visit Australia. It is a big thing is a poor nation of many Islands, frequently battered by terrible storms. But these are natural, not human-caused.
    But the speech to the UN will no doubt make a huge difference to the overseas aid to a country of 53,000 and GDP of $183 million.
    Despite having never visited the Islands, I feel a strange affinity to the place. I wish the people well.

    Kevin VS Marshall

  30. “Sponsored poetry” – they used to call that “propaganda” back when the Soviets did it … Pravda in iambic pentameter 😛

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