Today's Guardian reports that the government's chief scientific adviser Professor Bob Watson is warning that we should prepare for a 4°C temperature rise. The government also look set to give approval for new coal fired power stations (Monbiot.com) without any guarantee that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will be applied. These are just the latest signs that government's stated aim to limit carbon emissions and global warming is falling apart.
A 4°c rise in global temperatures would be catastrophic, with perhaps hundreds of millions of people affected by coastal flooding, severe drought in Africa and the Mediterranean and the extinction of 50% of animal and plant species. Such a temperature rise might well trigger other changes, such as the release of methane hydrate deposits in the Arctic, which would then lead to even greater global warming.
Future generations, if there are any, will look back in utter amazement that we allowed this to happen when we had the knowledge of what was happening and the means to do something about it. We might well look around ourselves now and ask "how are we allowing this to happen?" It's not just about such blatant greenwash as Bristol International Airport's proposed wind turbine. The mechanism of failure embraces almost everything that is currently being done in the name of reducing carbon emissions.
So what can we do? It's easy to feel that there's little that one can do as an individual, but if individuals do nothing then there is really no hope. Yet it's not enough to modify our own lives to have a smaller carbon footprint in splendid isolation from the real world. Such pretensions merely pave the road to Hell. We must somehow engage with the wider debate to make government realise that more and more people are demanding real action on this issue. This blog is my little drop in the ocean swell of public opinion that is needed to avoid this catastrophe. What's yours?