Radio review: Lights out for a dying planet

The disaster facing our planet is on an almost unimaginable scale
The disaster facing our planet is on an almost unimaginable scale

Lights Out: Dust, Radio 4

YOU can’t really look straight into the black hole – so says Andri Snaer Magnason, who tries to convey the scale of the climate crisis in a way that resonates.

This is no easy task. Climate change is a phrase that trips readily off our tongues. But the enormity of what is happening to the planet can be more difficult to grasp.

You can talk about the PH level of the world's oceans and how, by 2100, they will have dropped by 8.1 to 7.7 and that is the greatest change for millions of years – but what does that mean?

The disaster facing our planet is epic, he says.

"I noticed that language seems to fail us. How do you write about the foundations of our existence?”

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That is how mythology enters into the story, because history is about ideas, religions, empires, wars and culture. Mythology is about the fundaments. Sun, moon, wind, oceans, great floods and tragic gods, he says.

“We are living in mythological times, where we are shaking the fundaments.”

Snaer Magnason is a writer and poet. He shares with us a childhood memory of playing outside in the snow in his native Iceland when the lights of the city suddenly went out – there was this explosion of a “crazy, black deep sky” and what he saw were the “stars between the stars between the stars between the stars”.

His is a mixture of wonder and mourning: ever since, we feel robbed like him... how the night sky has become a faded reality.

It’s the pictures he paints that linger in the imagination. The cracks where the continents have been ripped apart; driving through deserted black sands.

Scottish artist Katie Paterson has a direct line to a melting glacier.

You can pick up your phone and ring and sometimes it is engaged. You try again and you hear the slow drip drip drip... the death of a glacier.

Can you hear the clicks and crackles of dissolving ice in the glacial lagoon?

Produced by the gifted Eleanor McDowall of Falling Tree Productions, Lights Out: Dust is a beautiful, imaginative response to our dying planet that lingers in your thoughts long after the spoken words have faded.