Climate change - Ignorance no longer an excuse

BEING a contrarian can sometimes seem attractive, it can even be lucrative. It can feed self-righteousness and encourage an affectation of difference. It may confer the questionable cachet of being apart from the herd.

Equally, being a contrarian is sometimes the right thing to be. All of those wrongfully convicted during the last round of our Troubles – the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and others – have reason to be thankful that a minority had the courage to confront the establishment to see that justice was done.

As the great preparation for climate change continues, there remains a minority who scoff at the received wisdom of our time even as those who warn of increasingly appalling consequences seem ever more certain of their position.

As Copenhagen trundles towards some sort of agreement that will mean little or nothing unless it is observed to the letter, great swathes of humanity don’t have the luxury of changing impoverished lifestyles. More bury their heads in the sand, hoping that they’ll wake up some morning and find it’s all just a bad dream, another lunacy concocted on the wilder fringes of a Green Party policy hug-in.

As we move towards the holiday period maybe each of us should, for just five minutes a day, consider the implications of climate change predictions on our lives and on our children’s and grandchildren’s lives.

The predictions are shocking, here are some.

The World Wildlife Fund tells us that “the world is currently undergoing a very rapid loss of biodiversity comparable with the great mass extinction events that have previously occurred only five or six times in the Earth’s history”. The phrase “comparable with mass extinction” should really grab our attention.

The astounding growth in world population.

Naturalist and filmmaker Sir David Attenborough has witnessed how the natural world is being swamped by humanity. “I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder – and ultimately impossible – with more,” he says. This small, fragile and bruised planet must feed about 80 million more people this Christmas than it did last Christmas. Though it took mankind almost 10,000 years to reach a billion people. We pass that milestone every 12 years or so. Though predictions of population disaster have been with us for centuries sooner or later they will come true.

Peak oil, food and water. These are three essentials for our existence and each is under considerable threat. These have been well documented and only a fool would pretend that their scarcity will not change our lives forever.

Most of modern agriculture is the process of turning oil – fuel and fertilisers – into either meat or vegetable matter but even this process depends on ample supplies of water.

Even the briefest of considerations of these issues will convince the most defiant contrarian that it’s well past the time we all changed our ways and we may still, just, have enough time to make a difference.


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