Thursday, 7 August 2008

Is the government throwing in the towel on global warming?

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 ( 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?


James Barlow said...

Isn't the road to hell paved with good intentions, rather than pretensions?

Chris Hutt said...

I had hoped that because everyone knows the saying my variation would be understood as amusing wordplay, but as so often I didn't anticipate the exercise of your higher intellect James.

Spectator said...

Chris Hutt said...

"... but as so often I didn't anticipate the exercise of your higher intellect James."

Oh Chris, but he's a consultant... you really should have anticipated it!

Chris Hutt said...

But he's a very clever consultant, cleverer than me, so I can rarely anticipate how he might outmanoeuvre me, which is what makes debating with him so interesting.

James Barlow said...

I don't know about clever; I'm just an ex-squaddie with a little bit of education and a regular relationship with the Open University.

Literature was never my strong point, but perhaps the following preserves the meter of the original*:

"The road to hell is paved with grand pretensions"

*I'd always thought this was a quote from Samuel Johnson, but apparently not

Elizabeth said...

Could the words "The road to [hell]" have been added when people knew "Pilgrim's Progress" well?