Climate Change Confusion

The weeks of January are fast becoming a distant memory as Snowdrops and birdsong herald Spring, but the snow that fell and laid for an unusually long period for these parts put a soporific blanket over crops. By the middle of February as I write, however, they are starting to look up and ‘ think ‘ about the growing season to come.

As many of you will know my father, Michael, died on 30th December. He would have been 96 at the end of January. The immediate weeks following his death, including the deadline for copy, were hectic and hard going. The Editor kindly gave me a month off.

We had a great Thanksgiving Service at St Mary’s, which we feel honoured God and Dad. Recently I have been thinking about legacy and at this time specifically his legacy. I have come to the conclusion that a good legacy is fundamentally about influence and inspiration, not empire or edifice. Where Christine and I have shaped the farm and business you read about in these articles, we have been colouring in the design he drew on a blankish canvas when he arrived in Meppershall in 1936; and we are very grateful for that foundational work to which we have come and continued the stewardship and business aspects of Polehanger. We miss him.

Following up on the theme of legacy, there have been a lot of words written in the press recently, leading up to and since the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change.

What is going on? Who should we believe?

Has human activity so affected the atmosphere that change is imminent and irrevocable? Has scientific data been manipulated or selectively published to further particular dogma and interests? More to the point, what is going to happen, if anything?

Do we need to change the way we do things for the sake of our grandchildren?

What do you think? Who do you believe? Are you confused?

My views on this subject are still developing but, for what it’s worth I will try and outline where I’ve got to.

Climate Change is not new. We have historical and geological evidence for it.

Carbon Dioxide does seem to act as a greenhouse gas and trap solar heat reflected form the earth’s surface.

Deforestation is going on at a significant net loss of tree cover worldwide. Trees are a major absorber of CO2 through photosynthesis.

Most icecaps and glaciers worldwide are retreating. Last summer, I believe, merchant ships travelled the sea route north of Canada for the first time. It is normally frozen over.

Hydrocarbon fuels when burnt give off CO2 but are also a finite resource. At some time relatively soon reserves will be exhausted.

The world population is predicted to grow from 6 billion to 9 billion by mid century at projected rates of increase.

Drastic weather events appear to be increasing in frequency. Global warming does not mean everywhere will get hotter.

Scientists and innovators will continue to come up with answers to many of the potential problems if encouraged politically and financially.

Some ‘dodgy’ science doesn’t discredit all science.

If there is a 100% certainty that significant climate change and global warming, caused by CO2 emissions, will impact my grandchildren negatively then I must do my utmost to change my behaviour and influence others to do the same. But there isn’t 100% certainty.

However, by the time there is that certainty it will surely be too late to do anything to reverse the situation quickly, if at all.

What about 75% certainty ? I will still do the same.

What about 50% certainty? I think I still want to act. I do not want to consider the possibility that my grandchildren will ask their

parents why I, their grandfather ( and my generation ) didn’t do anything to prevent a dreadful legacy of climate change and weather disaster and their effect on them and in particular the poorest and most vulnerable communities world wide.

My thoughts above are not a fully reasoned argument. They are developing. In general I am a cautious person but I feel a sense of urgency.

I want my legacy to be a significant and responsible one for future generations.

How do you see yours?

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