Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We need a state of war on climate change

Calling all climate sceptics. Listen here all you who think that climate change is a conspiracy of scientists who want to keep their well-paid jobs, or of left-wing governments who want to tax everybody to the hilt, or of liberal greenies who think they know better than everyone else.

Pay attention Senator James Inhofe, seen in the video in that link testifying last week against Environmental Protection legislation, and the likes of you Koch Brothers, oil billionaires who fund the climate denial machine.

Last month, members of the World Economic Forum, surely among your rich and powerful friends, and who belong to none of the above three sets, decided that climate change is the biggest threat facing the planet.

Never mind your vested interests who try to deny it, these elite businessmen and politicians are very spooked.

I say, it's about time they turned on their friends - people like you - who still make money out of polluting the atmosphere and shamed you into action. Shame, shame, shame you.

For there are few more powerful incentives to change behaviour than the disgust of your peers.

The UK government knows that insurance companies can put pressure on industry to behave.

But that's not strong enough. It's not shame.

The WEF at Davos endorsed the Economics of Climate Adaptation (ECA) Working Group's report Shaping Climate-Resilient Development, published by an insurance company, which shows that easily identifiable and cost-effective measures – such as improved drainage, sea barriers and improved building regulations, among many others – could reduce potential economic losses from climate change.

In making that judgment, the business elite also connected the dots between climate change and economic disparity (ranked 3), extreme weather events (ranked 5), extreme energy price volatility (ranked 6), geopolitical conflict (ranked 7), flooding, food and water security.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) last month reported that world food prices hit a "historic peak,' the highest in the 20 odd years since they first began the index. It was high food prices that were the last straw helping to trigger the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

All these things are connected. The consensus emerged at the WEF that the entire world is in deep and desperate trouble.

What should be our collective response?

It used to be fringe groups which called for climate change to be treated as if we were at war. Now it is the mainstream which is doing this.

Writing on a blog on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, Richard Burge, Chief Executive of Wilton Park - the "neutral and discreet environment for off the record discussions on the most pressing global problems" said last week that climate change should be "on the same footing as counter-proliferation of WMD".

He was writing after a high level discussion on nuclear non-proliferation. He continued:
"In the global debate on climate change, preparedness and adaptation for such change is often spoken of in whispers. To be more vocal results in being accused of defeatism or diverting attentions for the “real” task of emission reduction.
"The consequences of significant rises in global temperature are truly catastrophic, in terms of the loss of life, displacement of people, and the shortage of resources, it is on the same scale as the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It will be a process of containing the damage, retreating to areas that can be secured, and making horrendous decisions on who lives and who dies. Large areas of our inhabited planet will be abandoned."
It can't be denied. We are at war with a horrific enemy: a future none of us wants.

In World War II anyone not helping with the war effort was heaped with opprobrium. Neighbours were ostracised if they left a light on during a blackout in an air raid.

From now on, the same degree of shame must be heaped upon you who needlessly use fossil fuel energy - and threaten the rest of life on earth - for a very different reason.

No comments: