John Clark writes…
First published: March 2014
It rained heavily in December. Thousands of acres of farmland were flooded. Villages became isolated and a railway line was washed into the sea. Floods then hit the well- heeled occupants living in Berkshire and Surrey. In austerity hit Britain the Prime Minister now declared that ‘money was no object’.
For four years the government has claimed that public services must be cut. The ‘State must be reduced’. Austerity included massive cuts into Local Government – responsible for providing support when there is flooding. Another area cut was 1500 jobs in the Environment Agency. All this was stood on its head when the government said it would pay the Environment Agency and Local Government costs for the flooding. The public sector was needed. The above irony was matched by the Environment Minister Owen Patterson being a ‘climate change’ denier. When ill health took him out of the picture the Prime Minister almost admitted that this was ‘a severe weather event and probably caused by climate change’!
The whole human race is threatened by climate change. If we don’t get on with tackling the problem and quickly then the cost will be massive. Massive in terms of lives, food, flooding, rising sea level, transport and even the survival of the human race. The ConDem governments claim to be the ‘greenest ever government’. This is an empty political slogan. Accepting the problem of climate change must be the first step in the worldwide change to a sustainable society measured in the very long term.
This will mean sacrifices in the short term so as to reduce the ‘carnage’ in the longer term. We have used billions of years of fossil fuels in a couple of centuries. The government’s belief that Fracking will be a solution to our energy problems is so ridiculous as to be stupid. It will in fact make the problem worse. The solutions are going to be many and varied. All housing and other buildings must be built to the highest achievable levels of insulation so as to minimise the heating required.
- All housing in flood plains must be built on pillars. Those houses near the Thames built on pillars had flood water flowing harmlessly underneath.
- All houses should be built south facing, with solar panels and ground source heat pumps.
- All housing must be built near to employment – vast amounts of commuting is causing climate change and is of little benefit to society.
- HS2 should be scrapped – high speed travel uses high levels of fuel and the construction uses vast amounts of energy.
These changes will be painful and costly to society. The alternative is even worse. We will end up paying vast amounts for ever increasing flood defences, ever spiralling food prices while the cost of oil and other fossil fuels will increase even faster as the world demand increases and supply reduces.
The big question was: “Is climate change man-made and does it cause severe weather?”
The big question now is: “Has any government got the political leadership to tackle climate change now for the benefit of the human race in the long term?”