Sunday, June 24, 2012

Soggy ostriches

An angry man who was interviewed by the BBC in one of the flooded areas of the UK the other day demanded to know why "they" hadn't done enough to prevent the water from invading his and other people's homes. He was typical of many who don't appear to see any connection between changing weather patterns and what "we" are doing, or not doing, about climate change. As floods happen more often, hardly anyone seems to have made the connection. It's just the weather, they grumble. Did the angry man have any personal responsibility for the result of inaction? I doubt he'd have thought so. It's up to "them", whoever they are.

Meanwhile, in Rio, at last week's UN Conference on Sustainable Development, hardly anything was achieved. Paul Vallely reported for the Independent,
A lot of high-flown rhetoric ushered in last week's UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Rio+20 was the biggest summit the UN had ever organised. Some 40,000 environmentalists and 10,000 government officials gathered with politicians from 190 nations for a meeting which the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said was "too important to fail".

But fail it did. It ended on Friday with an unambitious, non-binding statement which made few advances on what was agreed 20 years ago. Activists such as Greenpeace International called it "an epic failure". Technocrats such as Maurice Strong, who ran the 1992 summit, called it a "weak" collection of "pious generalities". Politicians such as Nick Clegg called it "insipid". No wonder in Brazil protesters ritually ripped up the final text and renamed the summit "Rio minus 20".
Flood-stricken areas are likely to be flooded again. All the evidence suggests that they will. In the UK, it will mean higher insurance premiums and may force some homes to be abandoned altogether, but this will be nothing compared to the effect on those who live in low-lying countries like Bangladesh and the Pacific islands, who have nowhere to go when their homes are submerged.

The TV news shows flooded towns, angry or dejected people, but hardly a mention of the cause of this extreme weather - population growth and unsustainable life styles. Instead, all we hear is that we need more "economic growth" and more jobs. "They" are ignoring the real problems. So are "we".

Click here to read the US Environmental Protection Agency on Climate Impacts on Global Issues.

Click here to read about the elephant in the room at the Rio summit.

No comments: