This threat affects everyone
The letter from Jackie Lewis on 1 May probably reflects what a lot of people feel but also shows there is a need for better understanding of climate change.
The Extinction Rebellion (XR) protestors have a grasp of the tremendous challenge facing us all and see the need for real action by everyone, but Government in particular. Other groups have been lobbying, without resorting to non-violent direct action, but with only limited success so making it necessary to really bring the issue into the public eye.
This XR have done and we should be grateful.
It is wrong to indicate that because the UK has reduced CO2 emissions by 44% since 1990, by phasing out coal fired power stations, that it is “job done”. We have been told that the target must be zero and we have limited time to achieve it.
Making the changes to the way we live to stop the remaining 56% will be much more difficult and the support of everyone will be needed. The issue has seen an unprecedented amount of work by scientists and on the basis of this work we can be sure the threat is real.
The threat is also unique in that it affects everyone. Previous natural disasters, or those caused by us, have been limited in scope. So famines, floods, failed states etc have been catastrophic for those millions who suffered but the rest of us just carry on.
Runaway climate change has the potential to collapse our societies and economies on a global scale.
The signs are already there, in the recent Mozambique cyclone, wind speeds reached 175mph. Imagine this in the UK where nearly every building and our infrastructure would be seriously damaged. Insurance companies would be likely to go bust or refuse to pay out so repairs wouldn’t be possible.
Extreme weather events are becoming almost routine around the world so these situations could become widespread and rising sea levels increase the risk.
A shifting of the existing boundaries between inhabited areas and deserts is also predicted which would lead to mass migrations that would cause conflict. These changes, along with extreme weather events, would also disrupt food production and food shortages usually lead to civil unrest at least.
This is just a flavour of the implications of climate change. Instead of complaining about the protestors, let’s put pressure on government, councils and our employers - keep asking “what are you doing to address the problem of climate change and how fast will you take effective action?”
Lots of people have worked for years to get the threat of climate change taken seriously but Extinction Rebellion and the striking school children have caused a step change in awareness so let’s support their success.
It is not alarmist to say that what we risk losing is nothing less than an acceptable quality of life in a relatively stable world.
Frank Oldaker, Shrewsbury Friends of the Earth
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