Monthly Archives: December 2010

Time for a Climate Change

I don’t want to be one of those people who smugly announce the latest thing that they’re doing to save the planet in the vein hope that it will, somehow, impress others. I say this because those who are impressed with such utterances seem to be just as venal and smug as the utterer. Having said that, I drive a hybrid. I didn’t buy it to save the world with. I bought it because it was meant to be cheep, although recent rises in petrol have meant that it now costs the same as my old car did to run and any savings I thought I might make are being eaten up by the three or four services it has to have each year… even though it is not old enough to warrant getting an M.O.T. I am now left with a car that doesn’t say anything about me. If a Ferrari is meant to be a penis extension, what on earth is a hybrid? It’s only real use is to save the planet, something that we now know it won’t do because a hybrid’s carbon footprint (or tire track if I am being pedantic) is greater than that of a petrol car.

Bugger!

So, the hybrid is a confused animal much in the same way that we are over climate change. The argument at the moment goes like this. We are either responsible for climate change or we aren’t. Those who think we aren’t also think that there denying of climate change means they are quite within there rights to go on living the way they have been all these years. Those who think we are believe that we, as the instigators of the earth’s altering, must do something to slow, stop or reverse the processes we started.

The one problem with this argument is that it is flawed on both sides.

There has been enough controversy around the theory that climate change is man made so as to cast doubt as to whether it is. From leaked emails suggesting faked research to alternate theories with similar amounts of evidence to back it up, at a glance you could easily be mistaken in to thinking that this is just something that scientists have got wrong. Then, there are the political lobbies and organisations like Green-piece who have been accused of over stating the argument for there own political gain. Knowing us humans, I am sure that some of this has been going on. After all, it is in our nature.

Similarly, the argument against tends toward the supposition that climate change is either not happening or not as serious as we have been told. Whilst there is certain evidence of the latter, the one thing that is left out in these debates is that most scientists know that climate change is happening. It’s silly to assume not when the physical evidence can be seen with our own eyes, like the polar ice caps retreating. That issue is not the point of contention. The problem is that climate scientists can’t prove that without our impact the Earth would be doing anything differently. This is largely because our very nature here disrupts the balance anyway, in a natural way.

Climate change happens. It’s not a bad thing… it’s just a thing. The human species, however, doesn’t like change and will do whatever it can to preserve the way of life we currently live. At a more macro level you can see this in the way that we raise our children. We want them to become miniature versions, not of ourselves, but of the people we think we should be. Part of this is to maintain a balance, keep the equilibrium between a world with us in it and one without. Our children will carry on for us. As a species we do this through setting up conservation areas and schemes to protect endangered species. We feel responsible that we are changing the world around us and (quite frankly) we want that to stop.

This is how the question of whether the changes in the climate has been raised. It’s either something we can do something about or something we can’t do something about, either way it’s something and when something is going on there is a tendency to try to do something about that something.

What I am going to write now may be a controversial thing to say but I feel it an important point to get accross.

NONE OF IT MATTERS!

Think about it logically. One of the following statements might be true:

  1. Climate change is man made.
  2. Climate change is natural.
  • If climate change is man made or there is something we can do about it, We should do that something.
  • If climate change is natural or there is nothing we can do about it, we can keep living as we have been.
  • The oil is running out and shortly we won’t be able to live as we have been.
  • The something we can do to make an impact on Climate Change will also help move industry down the path of removing our dependency on oil.

I’ve always been a little bit of a ‘climate-change skeptic’. For me, the evidence that I have seen does not necessarily equate with climate change being man made. I’m 100% convinced that it’s there and it’s happening but there is a big leap between that and saying we are definitely responsible for it. Far more worrying, in my mind, is the dependence that we all have on oil. Not only has this caused many horrible wars, and is likely to cause many more, but it is one of the reasons that our governments can’t seem to leave the middle east alone. The point is, we seem to be reaching the point of peak oil. When we get to that point, with every year there will be less and less energy available to mankind. What are we going to replace it with?

Hydrogen is a great idea and I’m sure, in car terms, that it will become the next big thing (as soon as oil companies understand they can make as much money as they are doing right now by making it). The problem is, to get that, you have to burn fossil fuels. Wind and power will give us some returns, and of course solar energy is becoming cheaper. It is still, however, not enough to feed our energy needs as a planet. Nuclear energy actually produces 75% as much carbon as the fossil alternatives, which won’t be around for long and, it’s not renewable. Renewables are the way forward. They have to be if we are to rely on having enough supply to meet demand.

Lack of oil also brings up other topics. How are we going to feed ourselves? The global economy is geared towards trade with other countries and many manufacturers ship across the sea. With no oil we will have no food apart from what we can grow, plant and barter for.

Our world is an oil based economy whether we like it or not. It is in everything we do. From the cars we drive to the food we eat and the clothes on our backs, our over-reliance on oil is going to be our downfall when it suddenly runs out. So, why aren’t we leading the way, beating a path to the new scientific revolution of cheep, safe renewable energy?

Because we’re human and we don’t like change.

Ironically, the changes that we would have to make to allow society to continue using an oil-less fuel system (whatever that may be) are the same changes that we are being asked to make now to combat climate change. So I put it to you that whether or not climate change is man made, we have to make these changes to ensure the continuation of our race, our civilization and our world.

Is that really too much to ask?