Saturday, 30 August 2008

Just 100 months......

According to a report from the New Economics Foundation we have just 100 months to save the planet from climate change. That is 8 1/3 years which takes us to about 2017. Its well worth reading the article by Andrew Simms which explains why we have such a short time left to take effective action. Here is a quote from part of that article:

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere today, the most prevalent greenhouse gas, is the highest it has been for the past 650,000 years. In the space of just 250 years, as a result of the coal-fired Industrial Revolution, and changes to land use such as the growth of cities and the felling of forests, we have released, cumulatively, more than 1,800bn tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Currently, approximately 1,000 tonnes of CO2 are released into the Earth's atmosphere every second, due to human activity. Greenhouse gases trap incoming solar radiation, warming the atmosphere. When these gases accumulate beyond a certain level - often termed a "tipping point" - global warming will accelerate, potentially beyond control".

In the UK we know that we can save 30% of our energy needs just by having effective insulation in all our homes. What is being done about this - nothing! While politicians prevaricate and appease their chums in the energy industry with promises of coal fired plants and nuclear reactors we are going to hell in a handcart. Even if the 100 months prediction is wrong, in a time where we have passed peak oil, energy conservation measures and greater use of renewables are essential measures, which we need to take to prevent fuel poverty, and to make us all more energy efficient.

If the 100 month prediction is correct be very afraid because at the rate we are going we have no chance of constraining atmospheric CO2 to 400 ppm by 2017 and we are heading for social breakdown. Our politicians are far too wedded to the kind of capitalist solutions that enable the energy industry to make big bucks to take energy conservation measures. The government's policy of shifting to nuclear is bad enough - now we have government support for coal in the form of the proposed Kingsnorth power station in Kent!

The Kingsnorth debacle has attracted the attention of climate change campaigners, who have set up camp near the proposed power station. The camp, which runs from 3-11 August, has already been subject to police harassment. The police have raided the camp, kept the campaigners awake at night and even stolen the campaigner's bicycles! This is typical of the increasing criminalisation of legitimate protest brought about by a New Labour government.

I wish the protesters at the camp every success and I hope that they manage to persuade the government to think again. But I doubt if they will. Energy conservation, de-centralised energy generation (e.g. using your own solar power) all threaten to reduce the massive profits of the energy companies in the long run, or that how they see it, so it can't be allowed to happen.

The energy companies could take a different tack. They could sell us insulation and renewables instead of fossil fuel alternatives,. Enlightened governments might even be able to push them down that road. But not ours - it will still be fiddling with itself while the planet burns.