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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Blowing In The Wind



Last week I gave a talk to students at Kingswood School, near Bath, on transport related aspects of climate change. During the talk I shared my belief that for us to do something realistic about climate change, we have to change the entire fabric of our society. In short we have to change our lifestyles radically. An example is the aviation industry, and I follow George Monbiot's opinion on this. His view is that because of the growth of emissions from aviation and also because aircraft take greenhouse gases directly into the upper troposphere where they do most damage (it takes 25 to 30 years for surface emissions to reach that level which means that if we stopped all GHG emissions now, climate change in theory would continue for several years afterwards at least), we should effectively cut air travel by 90%. I share that opinion.
In recent months, scientific opinion has advanced the hypothesis that our cold winters recently are due to a change in the position of the jetstream. I believe this to be realistic, but isn't funny how national media talk about such 'freak weather events' but do not go as far to talk about the phenomenon that's behind it? Climate change, you won't see that mentioned once in the article discussing the change in the jetstream published in The Daily Mail , except in the comments section that is. The BBC is just as bad, don't mention the monster that must be mentioned, avoid the subject at all costs. If that isn't the hallmark of a biased national media I don't know what is!
The change in the jetstream is interesting, but there are far worse things lurking in the shadows. Back in 2008 a team of Russian scientists led by Natalie Shakova (Shakova et al, 2008) discovered that methane was starting to bubble up from the methane hydrate in the waters around the area of the East Siberian Shelf. That is really alarming because if the hydrate melts, that will tip us into irreversible climate change, runaway climate change that will become impossible to stop.
If we seriously want to stop climate change, never mind reverse it, we have to make some harsh decisions. We have to stop listening to the rubbish our politicians keep on banging out about economic growth (by that they mean exponential economic growth - which is lunacy on a planet with finite resources). We have to stop flying. Not next year, or next week, but now! We have to consider the motor car as a bane on the planet, for use in emergencies or essential use only, at least until such time as we can get enough green vehicles with fuel cell technology out on the streets instead of the polluting monsters we have now. I hate to say it but we should also consider over-riding the objections of 'wind farm protesters', they might love their countryside, but if they looked closely enough they would see that that countryside is starting to die, or at least change radically, exacerbated by climate change, and I haven't even begun to mention the drought that's affecting the south-east yet, or the serious threat from flooding that parts of the north are facing. And isn't it nice of the government to make cuts in flood prevention programmes at such a time? Bless them.
Some people will inavariably talk about economics in response to this post, but what use is economics on a planet that is starting to die?

Where will you do business in the future? On Mars?

Don't just think about it! Act!

And act now!

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Energy & Environment Dates 2012