Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A frightening end to 2015

Here, in the relatively balmy East of England, it's been unseasonably mild and dry over the Christmas period. In the north and west of the country, those rising global temperatures have seen a succession of fierce winter storms produce record-breaking rainfall and devastating floods. It's a repeat of what happened two years ago, although (at the moment) it's been the north west rather than the south west that has been afflicted.

This is climate change, happening now. Global temperatures are some way off the so-called "safe" two degree (Celsius) rise, and yet all over the world havoc is being wreaked as known patterns (El NiƱo) are being amplified by the modest rise in temperatures. Don't believe me? See this recent news report. This might explain why the recent Paris agreement claims it will limit global rises to "just" 1.5 degrees - if everyone plays ball.

The time for argument is over - it was over ten years ago, but the paid shills continue to muddy the waters when people and governments need clarity of thought. We can halt - and maybe even reverse - the effects of climate change if we act quickly and decisively, but I don't see it happening.

Taking the UK in isolation, first we have a government determined to kill renewable energy by removing its declining subsidies before it's ready to stand on its own two feet. And all so it can throw that money at fracking (never mind continue to heavily subsidise fossil fuels in other areas). Second, people are directing their anger at the wrong targets - the refugee crisis sees my Facebook timeline polluted with calls to divert our pitiful overseas aid to the flood victims. Third, the gradual erosion of personal responsibility and social cohesion means few individuals will accept responsibility for their actions. Even now we could all rally against government, take steps to reduce our own carbon emissions (fewer flights, less polluting cars, better attempts to buy local) and bypass authority completely, but no. People refuse to accept they have any effect on the environment around them (because sending billions of tons of a warming gas into the atmosphere will have no effect, sure!), and then use the weakest argument of all: "Nothing I do will have any effect, so why bother?"

The depressing thing is that many of us have resolutely refused to change one iota of our lives - in the noughties we didn't care because we thought it would affect our grandchildren. Even in this decade when it's become apparent that the threat is closer to home, we cared so little for our children that we refused to make any kind of sacrifice. But what about now? As 2016 comes into being, it's blatantly obvious that climate change threatens our own future. Surely even the most selfish of us must now realise that taking these long overdue steps is vital for our own survival, never mind those who come after us?

Every single person in the western world is responsible for this mess. We can all do better. We must all do better. Or there will be one element of justice in the horrors yet to come: we'll get to see the effects of our selfishness first hand.

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