Green Reflections

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Looking back over 2008 in terms of climate change, there hasn’t been enough news to give us hope but to take a brief (very brief) look back at some of the green news that comes to mind, here are a few reminders:

#Britain’s erratic weather once again confused our wildlife and continues to do so. As the climate becomes more and more unpredictable, many species are struggling to cope and their odd behaviour clearly demonstrates the evidential impact that climate change is having on them which will inevitably reach the human species.

#As unthinkable as it seems, scientists warned us that there may be no ice at the North Pole this Summer. They told us that the ice-caps are melting much faster than was first thought and that there may be no ice left there, disputably for the first time ever, and as the ice continues to melt it continues to have a dramatic impact on many species out there who are having to change their feeding and migration patterns. The rising sea levels are also having an impact on whole communities . . . and not just native communities either. Runaway warming in the Arctic will have a devastating effect on each and every one of us.

#The Plane Stupid activists brought some controversy into their campaign when their actions resulted in a runway being closed for a day and flights canceled giving travelers a taste of what life is going to be like as we continue along the destructive path of convenience and carbon emissions.

#Camp for Climate Action went to Kingsnorth this year to protest against E.ON’s proposed coal-fired power station:

The new power station planned for Kingsnorth will output more CO2 each year than the whole of Ghana

Of all the fossil-fuels, coal is the biggest polluter and it beggars belief that our government is insisting on waking this dinosaur. Burning coal is a major threat to the planet so it’s not surprising that Kingsnorth has been a major focus for environmental campaigners. The more coal we burn, the more it negates any environmental progress we have made.

#Of course, I can’t have a green run-down without mentioning the election of Barack Obama and the departure of one of the worst presidents in US history. His gung-ho vandalism on the environment has put the world in a much worse state than it should be in and his refusal to acknowledge climate change sooner has resulted in precious loss of time and action. George Bush hasn’t gone yet but we know that, along with his corporate buddies, he is going to leave a green legacy that, if there were any justice in the world at all, he would be strung up for. Here’s hoping that Obama’s environment team can outweigh some of the damage.

#The 2008 Climate Summit took place in Poznan and a new EU emissions agreement was reached which George Monbiot aptly named carbon colonialism. As the summit ended, the missed opportunities were clear and the divide between the rich and poor countries was stark. Shameful.

#And finally, one thing that’s been a damn sight more predictable than the weather this year is the amount of sceptics with their usual tiresome doses of denial and emotional exploitation. Once again I am inclined to quote George Monbiot:

Those who claim to identify a conflict between environmentalism and humanitarianism have either failed to read the science or have refused to understand it.

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This is just a place to store all my head thoughts in the unfortunate event that my mind may, one day, choose to erase the lot. Hopefully m
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3 Responses to Green Reflections

  1. matt says:

    Thanks for the summary EP. There will be more on climate change next year of course with the 2009 meeting in Copenhagen.

    However 2008 has allowed more focus to shift back to the destruction of forests and biodiversity, the pollution and scarcity of fresh water and the fragmentation of habitat for migratory species.

    I think there has also been a noticeable increase in interest with looking for solutions. Often these are from the anthropogenic (human) point of view but with (hopefully) a look at how less negative impact upon natural environments can be achieved. Renewable energy and hybrid cars and their fuels have taken up a lot of ‘green’ coloumn inches. Biofuels have been controversial.

    We have ended 2008 with a debate about how the deepening financial crisis will impact upon investment in what are often new environmental initiatives. Some, such as Obama argue that jobs can be created here.

    We see 2009 come in with so much to do but with far more knowledge of the issues than even 3 years ago and the surge in interest to find reasonable and sensible solutions. Lets keep up that optimism. :)

  2. the Grit says:

    Hi earthpal,

    You left out that 2008 was the coolest year in a decade, which should make most people take a second, and more skeptical, look at the Global Warming scam. Also, you are slightly off about the polar ice melts. While the Arctic ice did melt off, it also froze back quickly this winter, and the Anarctic ice and the Greenland ice increased in overall thickness. This year was also another in a series of record cold winters in the Northern Hemisphere, with both Europe and North America experiencing strong and early winter storms.

    On the up side, there were strong gains in efforts to get us off the oil standard, but these will probably be overshadowed by efforts to shut down electric generation from coal, meaning that more of the several hundred million new people added to the world population this year will experience short and brutal lives.

    In other green news, we also hit, at least here in the US, an important milestone in that the majority of our population now lives in urban areas. This will be good news from an environmental point of view in many ways, such as an increased demand for more energy efficient mass transit. On the other hand, this is balanced by increases in transportation of good from all over into these growing urban centers. It also offers the potential for revolution as the urban masses try to use their increased political influence to oppress the more dispersed rural population. If y’all think the current financial “crisis” is a mess, just wait until we Americans start shooting at each other again. The ramifications of this potential internal strife in the United States should be of considerable interest to everyone outside our borders as, since the majority of our military is from rural areas and almost all of our nuclear weapons are stationed in those same areas, and, from personal conversations and reading the news for many years, it’s quite possible that people will gain control of said weapons who truly think that large cities are a blight on the world – and not just LA and New York mind you, but Paris, London, Moscow, etc. – and might take the opportunity to burn off the perceived infection. Living, as I do, down wind from a first round target in such a scenario, I’m kind of tense over this possibility.

    As to Obama and green jobs, the current politics of our financial crisis have shifted that to the back burner. He’s even given up on his plan to tax the evil rich. You should also note that, since sales of new and more fuel efficient cars are taking a nose dive, it means that, what with gas prices being at a 10 year low, people will keep driving their big cars until economic times pick up. Of course, at least for our car companies who are kissing Government ass for loans, this also means that their future car production will be controlled by our liberal Government, meaning that they’ll be “green” to the extreme, and probably won’t sell worth a damn. The environmental bright side to that is that we Americans won’t have a future say in what we drive for several years, and y’all in the “green” leaning countries will get to call the shots. Fortunately, I have access to parts for my 1990 full sized GMC pickup to keep it running until I die, so I don’t care.

    As to the real problems we, as in the population of the world, should be concerned with, I’m thinking that over population, poverty and the connected problems of malnutrition, disease, and conflict, and religious based conflict totally over shadow any environmental concerns. Until we can celebrate a New Year when most everyone is well fed, healthy, and happy, I find it difficult to see great global gains on the environmental front.

    Still, it could happen, so,
    Happy New Year,
    the Grit

  3. earthpal says:

    Thanks for your comments guys. I haven’t got time to go into detail but briefly Matt, there has definitely been a surge in awareness of the problem this year . . but then, as you said, the recession hit which has left everything kind of hanging in the air a bit. We’ll see what ’09 brings – I can only hope we don’t lose the momentum.

    Hey Grit, yes, I left out loads of stuff. I just didn’t have the time. I hear what you’re saying about 2008 being the coldest year in a decade and predictably, the sceptics will interpret this as evidence to back their views. But it’s absolutely not proof that that global warming is slowing down. Remember that La Nina is largely responsible for cooling things this year. Temperatures will soon rise again when the effects of La Nina wear off.

    Enjoyed reading the rest of your comment Grit but no time to respond. Happy New Year to you too.

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