Thursday, October 15, 2009
Blog Action Day 09 - Climate Change
It has actually been an unseasonably warm day. We were at a local outdoor shopping village today and I was struck by the amount of bare arms on show. Children and babies in tee shirts, people sitting in the outside the cafes and on the benches enjoying the weather- it was more like August than the middle of October. Very pleasant, actually, and it is hard not to disagree with those who say we could do with a bit of climate change in Scotland. Apparently Nick Nairn, Scottish celebrity chef is looking forward to growing olives and lemons at his Trossachs cookery school, and and eminent retired professor of geology is excited by his prediction that the shores of Loch Ness will be the epicentre of the world's wine industry in around 80 years time (McIntosh 2008)
But that is really the problem. Here in the Occidental part of the Northern hemisphere,we think that the consequences of climate change will not be quite as devastating as they will in the developing world and some southern parts. We do not want to give up our current profligate lifestyle - multiple cars, appliances, package holidays - and now there is a chance that there might be some decent weather too - life is good! Yes, a few more gales and a bit of flooding here and there, but - hey - we are insured! Therefore no politician has ever advocated adopting the radical measures that will really, seriously, address the problem. There are no votes in austerity.
We need them to, though. My blog description says I am trying to live a simple life. For me that means being frugal - not wasting food, buying locally, not using air transport, using long life light bulbs, eating less meat, growing our own food as much as we can. A make do and mend attitude really. Having been born just over 15 years after the end of WWII, I was brought up with that kind of ethic. Many people do this much better than me and others yet aspire to it. What we need is help from our governments. We need our leaders to stand up and say -
"Enough of this reckless crazy consumerism! We will make it easier for you to do without cars - encourage the high streets to reopen and people to grow their own food. We will no longer allow supermarket companies to monopolise the food retail industry. We will stop being in the pay of companies with huge marketing departments that con you into thinking you can't live without their products. We will seriously help develop sustainable, workable energy systems that do not destroy our most precious land. We will...."
Well, I could go on and on with that list, but in essence, we need strong and radical leadership to help us do the work that needs to be done.
In 2050, my son James, and my grandson Finlay will be grown men in their 40s - more than likely with children of their own. Gordon Brown's boys will be the same age, as will Barack Obama's children. The charity Christian Aid has predicted that by that year, there will be at least 1 billion refugees as water shortages and crop failures force people to leave their homes. In addition there will be many more local conflicts and wars caused by access to resources. The scenario is frightening. what kind of world are we building for our children? A world full of fear - criminal gangs, looting and murdering over property or rights to water and food. What kind of water and food anyway? Catastrophic weather events will cause crop failures and interfere with the water supplies as it did in the floods of 2007 in England. For me it makes Bush and Blair's manufactured War on Terror pale into insignificance. Well - a bit of an exaggeration here - and especially for the young people being killed and injured in the current conflicts, but I just have this feeling that - terror - we ain't seen nothing yet!
I guess what I really want to hear from our World Leaders is " We will never stop working to make the world a safe and secure place for our children", and to actually start to make it happen. I will gladly follow them. Maybe I'll feel more optimistic if I get a better nights sleep.
McIntosh Alastair (2008) Hell and High Water: Climate change and the Human Condition Birlinn Edinburgh
Blog Action Day