TACKLING CLIMATE CATASTROPHE
The world is on a path of catastrophe after catastrophe due to climate changes caused by global warming. Many know, few disagree. The media report it but government acts slowly.
The Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill currently under discussion in the UK Parliament will “require Government to have a plan for environmental improvement”. It is to be a 25 year Environment Plan. If it had happened 25 years ago we might not be in the present trouble. But it is action that is needed, not a plan for future action! And it is “environmental safeguarding” that is required, not just “improvement”.
The following proposals are drastic, but they are not life-threatening in the way that no action is. They could lead to a better life for all. For the sake of our grandchildren, and certainly theirs, government must act: the five proposals for legislation should be incorporated in this current Environment Bill.
CLIMATE CHANGE, ECONOMIC GROWTH AND FOSSIL FUELS
- Recognise the causal connection between economic growth and climate change.
- Recognise that the energy which powers economies currently comes predominantly from fossil fuels: coal, gas and oil. The combustion of these fossil fuels produces greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, which in the atmosphere trap solar heat causing warming and this results in adverse climate change.
- Recognise that the world-wide growth of economies over many years has entailed increased fossil fuel consumption, more greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, consequent global warming, and resultant climate change. Today these adverse conditions are becoming dangerous and in places life-threatening. Scientists refer to the possibility that the world is approaching “the sixth extinction” meaning annihilation of most of the living creatures on Earth.
- Recognise that it is the growth-based economies of developed nations around the world and the accompanying ‘me-first’ acquisitive culture that is rapidly driving the world to catastrophe. The shibboleth that we need growth is dangerously wrong. Ultimately it is suicidal for the planet!
- Recognise that for survival, immediate change is imperative. Economic growth in the developed countries, like Britain, must stop! A steady-state, zero-growth, smaller economy is needed. Recognise that we should help the less-developed nations grow their economies slightly, but with the aim of soon achieving a steady state.
ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF ENERGY
- LEGISLATE now to ensure that within five years our fossil fuels stay in the ground unused and none are imported. Recognise that this will seriously affect most industries and domestic properties unless they quickly develop alternative sources of energy.
- LEGISLATE now to fund increases of wind, wave, hydraulic and solar sources of energy. Once established, these are virtually non-polluting sources. A fossil-fuel-free future will need much more electrical energy than now: some generated nationally by a variety of sources and distributed by the grid, some made locally by industry to support manufacturing needs, and some made domestically by solar panels to support homes. Research into improved storing of electricity is needed.
- Recognise that except where electrified transport replaces oil-powered or coal-fired transport (on land, sea and air) personal and freight transport will be seriously curtailed. The current availability of food and goods imported and those traversing the country will be adversely affected.
- LEGISLATE to ensure that every building where people live or work is thoroughly insulated in order to conserve energy and, where possible, is fitted with solar panels to provide either electricity or hot water.
- Recognise that unemployment will rise when economic growth is no longer the national aim and factories making non-essential goods may close.
- Adopt the term “home workers” for people hitherto termed “unemployed” and “wage workers” for those employed in recognition of the expectation that everyone will be engaged in some worthwhile activity, either in a work-place or in the community.
- LEGISLATE to introduce a universal citizen’s income financed through progressive taxation as a viable way to give support to everyone but especially home workers in order to eliminate poverty.
CLIMATE AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
- Promote and develop the idea of partly self-sustaining communities where home workers find worthwhile activity in home care, environment care, vegetable gardens, allotments, orchards, social activities, and other unpaid activities.
- LEGISLATE to fund more allotments, orchards and vegetable gardens in order to replace the loss of imported foods by locally grown foods where possible. Campaign for enjoying foods in season and for eating less meat.
EDUCATION: SCHOOLS AND CITIZENS
- Recognise that current school education is geared to individualism in a growth economy. Instead young people need to learn to work co-operatively and to develop the self-supporting skills needed in the new age. Put teachers, not politicians, in charge of the curriculum.
- Explain to all citizens, young and old, why measures such as these are necessary in order to empower future generations to enjoy sustainable livelihoods in their own communities and thrive in a changing world.
AN ECO-REVOLUTION IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
These are, of course, ultimately global issues, but here are seen in the context of Britain. The industrial revolution started here, perhaps the eco-revolution, world-wide, will too. Certainly it should be encouraged and facilitated wherever possible through the world.
These issues are formidable tasks for government and parliament! But we elect our representatives in the expectation that they will comprehend, protect and enhance our best interests and those of our descendants. Parliament should begin to act decisively now.
(Michael Bassey. March 2019)