Sterner Stuff : Climate Change in the First World

I’m starting to read Nicholas Stern’s new book “A Blueprint for a Safer Planet : How to Manage Climate Change and Create a New Era of Progress and Prosperity.” No hint of megalomania, grandstanding or grandiosity, there, then.

I’ve got to Page 3 and already he’s written something that I think should be acted on immediately.

“When I began looking at the subject of climate change, what did I find ? The first thing to hit me was the magnitude of the risks and the potentially devastating effects on the lives of people across the world. We were gambling the planet. I was also keenly aware of the importance of direct experience in mobilising action : unless people have seen or felt a problem, it is difficult to persuade them that a response is necessary.”

Well, that’s quite true. You need to know of someone, really, who’s died of lung or pancreatic cancer before you believe that smoking kills. I was in my local store the other day and a young fellow was deliberating and dithering because the storekeeper didn’t have light tar cancer sticks to offer him. “Choices, choices” I said, smiling, “but the best choice would be to stop.” We all laughed. There’s no point in trying to preach. He’s not going to quit until he has a real reason.

Well, if Global Warming continues the United Kingdom could get a bit wetter in Winter and a bit drier in Summer. Temperature rises could increase the number of Summer heatwaves and cancel out Winter cold snaps. Nothing huge there, really. So you can probably forget about trying to move British public opinion.

The British Government doesn’t help public schizophrenia indicated in poll after poll – percentages which don’t change much year on year.

The so-called “Climate Change social movement” is going nowhere. It doesn’t have any influence, it isn’t growing, and there are divisions within.

Meanwhile, the people at the top of UK public life, with decision-making authority, speak with forked tongue by following a dual path of Carbon expansionism (say, on airports and new coal-fired power stations), while at the same time spouting faith in Carbon Caps and their commitment to the United Nations Climate talks.

However, in Australia and the United States, first world Climate Change is already making its presence felt, and there are public responses in train, well, in Australia at least :-

http://www.scorched.tv

“‘Scorched’ is set in 2012 in a climate change ravaged world. Sydney has only eight weeks water left and is ringed by bushfires. It hasn’t rained for over 200 days…”

http://www.atmos.washington.edu/2009Q1/111/ATMS111%20Presentations/Folder%203/LiuX.pdf

Slide 4 : “Droughts in Australia”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/17/australia-murray-river-water

“When Britain’s taps run dry : The death of Australia’s Murray River could herald shortages not only for Adelaide but for water importers such as Britain : Fred Pearce : guardian.co.uk, Friday 17 April 2009 10.45 BST : They could soon be packing up and shipping out of Adelaide. Three years of intense drought on the River Murray, which fills the city’s taps, mean the capital of South Australia could run out of water within two years…”

The data is being gathered in the US of A, but there doesn’t appear to be much of a public movement :-

http://drought.unl.edu/DM/monitor.html

Even stories about rivers no longer reaching the sea seems to have little impact on the American way of life : guns, God and games with money :-

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/04/21/colorado-river-depleted-by-climate-change-may-bring-a-grand-drought

“Colorado River, Depleted by Climate Change, May Bring a Grand Drought : April 21st, 2009 10:57”

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/04/21/tech/main4959372.shtml?source=RSSattr=SciTech_4959372

“World’s Rivers Losing Their Flow : A Third Of The Earth’s Largest Rivers Face Significant Changes; Water Resources Threatened : WASHINGTON, April 21, 2009”

We here, the small proportion of the UK citizenry who are truly Climate-aware, have a large number of connections to rich, white relatives and friends and colleagues in Australia and the United States.

So, while it’s pointless to “campaign” on Climate Change in the United Kingdom, it might be useful to collect narratives of change from our connected people elsewhere in the first world and collate them to demonstrate what is happening, to a wide audience.

So, if any of you, my faithful readers (even the spammers, eh ?) have a feeling about how to go about collecting first world narratives of Climate Change happening now and presenting them to a wider audience in a meaningful and resonant way, please get in touch.

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