The 2018-2020 World Climate Emergency . . . and the Legend of the Hummingbird

India Assam rice farmers working in intense hear

One day, a long time ago and in a faraway place, or so the legend goes, there was a huge forest fire that was raging the  entire countryside. All the animals were terrified, running around in circles, screaming, crying and helplessly watching the impending disaster.

But there in the middle of the flames, and above the cowering animals, was a tiny hummingbird busy flying from a small pond to the fire, each time fetching a few drops with its beak to throw on the flames. And then again/ And then again. And yet again.

After a while, an old grouchy armadillo, annoyed by this ridiculous useless agitation on the part of the hummingbird, cried out: “Tiny bird! Don’t be a fool. It is not with those minuscule drops of water one after the other that you are going to put out the fire and save us all! ”

To which the hummingbird replied, “Could be, but I’m going to do my bit”.

This is actually a rough “translation” of a French version of the story “La légende du Colibri” which reads in the original like this:

Un jour, dit la légende, il y eut un immense incendie de forêt. Tous les animaux terrifiés, atterrés, observaient impuissants le désastre.

Seul le petit colibri s’activait, allant chercher quelques gouttes avec son bec pour les jeter sur le feu.

Après un moment, le tatou, agacé par cette agitation dérisoire, lui dit : « Colibri ! Tu n’es pas fou ? Ce n’est pas avec ces gouttes d’eau que tu vas éteindre le feu ! »

Et le colibri lui répondit :« Je le sais. Mais je fais ma part.

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And this is how Pierre Rabhi tells the story:

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Pierre Rabhi  is a French writer, farmer and environmentalist. Originally a Muslim, he converted to Christianity before getting away from all forms of organized religion. He studied in France  and is a notable figure in the field of agroecology. He invented the concept of “Oasis en tous lieux”, “(Oasis everywhere”). Rabhi proposes a society that functions in a manner which respects populations and land and supports the development of agricultural techniques that take care of the environment preservation natural resources. His theories relate particularly though not exclusively to arid countries. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

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About the editor:

This story is part of our build-up to setting out an invitation to follow and eventually to participate in our open collaborative proposal for the 2018-2020  World Climate Emergency Project.

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as a development economist, Francis Eric Knight-Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent non-profit advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh, @ericbritton. @worldstreets and britton@ecoplan.org

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