The Importance of Faith

In this extract from ‘Climate Change for Football Fans’ by James Atkins – we consider the important of faith for sports fans and environmentalists alike, as Joe and the Professor pray for gaols and scientific breakthroughs.


After ninety minutes it was still nil-nil. How, we’ll never know. PSG attacked incessantly, but we defended stoutly at times, desperately at others, on occasion outrageously flukily and sometimes despite ourselves. God proved to be an Englishman once again, the woodwork coming to our aid on three occasions. The French just couldn’t get the ball in the net.

Extra time came.

“Just one goal,” prayed Joe looking to the stars. But it was a cloudy night, and no goal came.

Extra time passed and now it was penalties.

Joe couldn’t look. Frank clenched his fists.

Jordan missed the first. But Makalele blasted his effort into the crowd.

We were deep in prayer. Praying for all things Claret. Praying for Jimmy MacIlroy. Praying for Billy Hamilton. Praying for Turf Moor.

Then Coupet was sent the wrong way. So was Jensen.

Alexander scored. Erding scored. So did Fletcher – lucky, in off the post, but it counted.

When Clément missed even the Profesor whooped for joy.

“Just score, just score” breathed Joe to McCann a hundred yards away. “Just score.”

He hit the post.

“Please miss, please miss,” breathed Joe to Giuly.

Jensen flung himself to his right, parried the ball, and it spun away to safety.

We were through. All were jubilant. It was a moment of glory. A smile had broken across the Professor’s face.

“There’s someone up there,” said Doris afterwards in the hotel bar. She’d seen Darren and Kelly to bed and returned to join us.

“And he’s got a claret and blue scarf,” said Joe.

“The power of faith,” murmured Igor. “It’s all down to faith.

He turned to Joe. “You’re not alone in having unshakeable faith in Burnley.

Many policy-makers have a similarly deep faith.” “What, you mean they’re Burnley supporters?” said Joe.

“No, not faith in Burnley. Faith that when we reach a river, there’ll be a bridge there. It’s like Darren’s game Age of Empires – as you explore new areas the grass and trees and paths magically place firm ground before us just before we fall into nothingness.”

No-one got it. “People who believe in the science and the logic of the market tend to look down on faith and mysticism. But in fact they have their faith just like people who live in forests. Faith that we can replace the infrastructure around the world in a few decades. Faith that engineers will float the ark of carbon capture and storage in time save us. How many miracles will that require?

“Faith,” Igor continued, “that industry and consumers will respond alertly and briskly to their faltering, flickering price signals. Faith in the market. A bit shaky,but still there.

“Faith that one plan will be enough.

“They’re setting targets for 2020 and 2050 even though they know that emissions must stop growing by 2011 and be cut dramatically immediately after that. They hope blindly that we’ll be OK.

“Perhaps in some places things will work to plan. Where instructions from the centre are executed efficiently and with no emotion. Where there are no ladies with banners and handbags holding up the permitting process. Where a technological dream is not a myth. Everywhere else … all they can do is pray for rain.”

The Professor had his speech and felt a lot better for it. But we were too excited and too tired to follow. We ordered another round and turned to watch the highlights on French TV.

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