Where do polar bears live?
In the Arctic.
Is that with the penguins or Father Christmas?
I dodged that one rather neatly by saying that it wasn't the penguins, because they live in the Antarctic, but that I thought Father Christmas lived a little South of the actual Arctic Circle, so not actually near the polar bears either.
And as I was saying it I realised that there's more than a possibility that by the time I'm having to admit that Father Christmas doesn't actually exist, I'll be having to admit that nor do polar bears. Or not any more.
And I don't know how to stop it. I don't know how to make it better.
Because it is happening, isn't it? Is there anyone out there who really seriously thinks it isn't? I've hitherto been a bit head in the sand ('cos that's all that will be left in a few years time) about it all, but the news, last week, that the Arctic ice cap shrank 18% more than the previous record this year has really hit me. This means, says Professor Peter Wadhams (who he?) of Cambridge University (oh, right), that: "The final collapse ... is now happening and will probably be complete by 2015/16," with, to my mind, although not to the scientists', who spell it out in terrifying detail, unimaginably catastrophic results for the entire world.
But what Professor Pete doesn't tell us, what none of the scientists tell us, is what can we do? What do they do? I don't mean ending drilling for oil in the Arctic (although frankly that does seem a wise idea), or reducing China's carbon emissions. I can't, personally do either of those things. What can I, we, you, do?
Because I have this conversation in my head. It happens in about twenty years time, and it starts familiarly:
You know when the scientists told you you were changing the world's climate irrevocably and it was going to result in global disaster?
Why did you let it happen?
I'm selfish, you see. I can't bear the idea that my children will look at me, at us, in years to come and think we stood by and did nothing. That the end of the world started on our watch. But I honestly don't know what to do.
I don't drive other than when I have to (so yes, I walked my children to school in torrential rain and gale force winds this morning - provoking a tantrum when I said no umbrellas). I switch off lights in a doubtless infuriating sanctimonious fashion, normally when there are still people in the room. (Often B in the loo. He loves that). I take my own bags to the supermarket. I am adamantly not going to turn on the central heating until the end of October (the other end), despite the fact I had two hot water bottles in bed with me last night. I read the information about where food has come from and only buy in season. I reduce. I reuse. I recycle.
But none of it's enough, is it? So what should I do? Should I never take another flight? Should I vote green? (I don't think we even had a green candidate here last time) Should I join Friends of the Earth? Should I change my energy supplier? Should I take my entire family off grid? (Significantly easier said than done, obviously). Or is none of that enough either?
And if there's nothing I can do that'll ever be enough, how am I ever going to be able to explain it?