We really ARE facing the apocalypse.
Naysayers call for a nuanced debate. We have been having such a debate for over 40 years.
Global warming was first detected in 1938, the first International Climate Conference was in 1979 and Margaret Thatcher made her powerful speech to the UN about it in 1989. She recognised the science.
Since then, the debate has not only been nuanced; it has been bedevilled by a multi-million-dollar campaign of mis-information sponsored by Exxon Mobil, amongst others, very much along the lines of the campaigns of the tobacco industry to deny the link between smoking and cancer.
The International Panel on Climate Change is a cautious committee. It was established in 1988, so it has taken 33 years for them to finally conclude that the recent extreme weather events are unequivocally the result of man-made climate change. The panel is not made up of scientists. It is made up of representatives of 195 countries, all mindful of their own self-interest. It includes the work of 751 authors, 14,000 cited scientific references and 78,007 expert and government review comments. I would have to be mind-bogglingly arrogant to think that I knew better than them.
But let’s keep it simple. Imagine driving along in your car with your family and coming to a bridge over an abyss. A friendly policeman flags you down and says that the bridge is unsafe and that there is a 10% chance of it collapsing while you cross. Would you have a nuanced debate with your partner and children? Or would you adopt the precautionary principle and turn around?
We are now in the situation where we can see that big bits of the bridge are already falling off and crashing into the abyss below. Still, there is a 1 in 10 chance of getting across safely if you really floor the accelerator. But by all means, have a nuanced debate first while more structures fall into the abyss.
Sceptics also raise the issue of cost: who will pay the cost of moving away from gas? It is a good point and needs to be resolved by our government. But I also wonder who is going to bear the cost of NOT addressing the climate crisis? Last year’s extreme weather events globally cost $21 billion in insurance claims alone. That’s going to mean more costly premiums for us all. But the real costs of the damage will have been many times more than that, in all the crops, homes and livelihoods around the world that were uninsured, and all the national infrastructures that taxpayers will have to fund.
Angela Merkel has just approved the payment of €30 billion to victims of this summer’s flood damage in Germany. It’ll be the taxpayer paying for that. Next year it could be us. Extreme weather events have increased fivefold since 1990. I imagine they are on an exponential path. Maybe it will be a twenty-fold increase by 2050. It certainly will be, if we are still having nuanced debate by then. The costs of further delay will dwarf the cost of heat pumps. And every year of delay drives those costs up.
The US spent $3 trillion in Afghanistan. We spent £400 billion to bale out the banks in 2009.
It’s a question of priorities. I don’t know what our Government’s priorities are, but the family in the back of my car are mine.