I recently attended an insightful presentation by Nick Drew called ‘Crisis response in the Hundred Acre Wood’ which obviously made use of Winne-the-Pooh, in particular the story “In which Piglet is entirely surrounded by water”. Nick is not to blame for the account’s inadequacies and inaccuracies.
If you don’t know the story, it can be found online say at
One of the main points of the presentation was the story described four possible responses to climate change, present in each of the characters.
Piglet: was worried and frightened. He fantasizes about being in comfort with others and discussing the situation. He was concerned about others, but thinks they will all be alright, and was convinced there was nothing he could do for himself other than get rescued. So surrounded by water he put a message in a bottle and threw it out the window – relying entirely on chance. Luckily he was in a story and it worked out.
Christopher Robin was quite excited by the flood, and measured the rise of the water with care each morning. Yes it was rising. Despite being mature and knowledgeable one, he was not really that concerned about anyone else – he was thinking about them and where they were, but he was safe on his high ground and it was fun.
Owl was stuck in abstract and largely irrelevant knowledge and vocabulary. He had absolutely no concern about others, he was not empathetic to their plight and was unafraid, there was no real problem – after all he could fly. His comfort of piglet is notable by his complete unawareness of its failure.
Pooh, works with the situation as it develops. He acts first through finding his feet wet, then through hunger and then narcissism – thinking the message in the bottle with all the ‘P’s in it must be about him. Determined to read the message he invents a boat (which naturally he calls “The floating Bear”) – which doesn’t quite work as it should, but it works well enough (“For a little while Pooh and The Floating Bear were uncertain as to which of them was meant to be on the top”). He is not scared of getting lost. When he gets to Christopher Robin who reads the note and finds Piglet is in trouble, Pooh decides to rescue Piglet and how to do it…. The message is that this is the way to respond. Because of Pooh’s inspiration others co-operate to help even if badly.
One of the things we might want to consider is that before the flood, everyone is wrapped in their own concerns, but after the flood, as seems to be the case in many disasters, people co-operate and come together – and indeed Nick narrated how after some flood this had been the case – although the flood was much worse than that in this story – people were told not to drink the water even after boiling. This cooperation is not what our apocalyptic movies suggest. In them people fight and perhaps even eat each other. Indeed, in movies often it is other people also trying to survive who are the main problem, not the disaster.
So Winnie-the-Pooh may be more accurate and useful. In this case, the disaster is unavoidable, so how do we create more Poohs to help afterward and possibly to act beforehand?