Despite a massive scientific consensus that global warming is a man-made phenomenon due to a combination of factors including increased CO2 levels from the burning of fossil fuels, destruction of vast areas of forest etc, there are still many who deny it is down to our actions or even a real problem. The US oil companies have lobbied long and hard that it was all bunkum and only recently begun to accept that it’s real – although scientists in their pay always seem to insist it’s an exaggerated concern.
Strangely enough, the Germans discovered tobacco was harmful and caused lung disease and cancer back in the 1930s. It took a lot longer for the US and UK to agree, not that our massive tobacco companies had anything to do with dismissing the evidence.
OK, global warming is real and the results will range from disastrous to catastrophic. So what can we do?
If we in the UK became carbon neutral tomorrow, scrapped all our cars sat in the dark and shivered in the cold, on a global scale it would make precious little difference. The Chinese are building a coal fired power station every 10 days, India grows nearly as fast and the rest of the impoverished world wants the same standard of living enjoyed by the west. Who can blame them?
Meanwhile the USA continues to consume and pollute worst by far of the developed world. And that is not going to change much. Whoever sits in the White House is not going to sit there for long if he or she tells Mr Middle America he can’t have a huge pick-up truck and air-conditioning in the summer. And the premier in Beijing isn’t going to stop the march of progress either.
The fact is that we, the human race, are not going to take enough action in time to prevent at least major problems and more probably a global disaster that could kill millions and destroy economies resulting in mass starvation and regional resource conflicts. The oil wars have started, the water and food wars won’t be that far behind.
So what should we do about global warming?
Obviously we should take action to reduce our contribution to the problem but perhaps we should also analyse what the effects on us in the UK are likely to be and plan for our own best course. The convoy is heading into a storm and there is nothing we can do to change the convoy’s course but we can turn our ship into the wind. Beef up our flood defenses, secure our own future rather than damage ourselves in a futile ineffective bid to stop the impending disaster.
On a global scale perhaps it’s time to think right out of the box. We know nuclear power has its dangers but produces less carbon emissions. Perhaps we should give or assist China to produce their power this way rather than through coal burning power stations. Who knows, we may only be 10 years off commercial fusion power that promises to be incredibly efficient and non-polluting.
Some of the ideas proposed to handle the problem would provide a big business bonanza like thousands of machines to remove CO2 from the air and store it or even a giant mirror in space to reflect sunlight and thereby lower temperatures.
There is only one country with the economic power to do these things, the USA but have they the will?