A lecture by Professor Kevin Anderson of Manchester University
Peter Garbutt writes:
We’re all aware that climate change is happening. Whether it’s our wet summers ruining our holidays, and worse, our crops, sending food prices soaring; or events further afield such as the huge drought in Russia in 2010, which was accompanied by flooding in Pakistan, Australia, the Philippines and Brazil; or the huge drought in the USA in 2012 – which is also contributing to higher food prices, particularly of grains like wheat – followed by the almost science-fiction-like scenes of the flooding by Hurricane Sandy of New York; or, most recently and most harrowingly, the intense bush fires in Australia caused by record-breaking temperatures; we can’t escape the evidence of a changing climate.
In this video, Kevin Anderson of the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre, speaking at the Cabot Institute Annual Lecture in Bristol in November 2012, pulls no punches. He argues cogently that policy on climate change has been led by false statistics, understating the dangers and the progress of the changes occurring in our climate. He further suggests that the supply-side solutions sought by governments – building more capacity, using technological fixes, many of which are simply not available – won’t do the job in time to stop even more CO2 getting into the atmosphere.
The problem is, the CO2 emitted over 100 years ago is still there, still doing its greenhouse warming, and we’re adding to it at increasing rates, mainly because the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and others are seeking to catch up with the developed west. The cheapest, quickest and easiest way to provide power is via coal-burning power stations. Coal is the dirtiest, most CO2-heavy fuel there is (ironically, it is Australia that is the world’s largest exporter of coal at the moment). Coal burns dirty, sending particulates into the atmosphere, as well as CO2. The particulates reflect the sun’s rays, providing some cooling; but they soon fall out, and when they do, the CO2 is still there, still warming us. So currently, the supply-side is doing the opposite of what it should be doing.
It’s a pity that Mr Anderson is obliged to speed up towards the end, glossing over some of the more positive messages he means to give; that we are already in a position to reduce our emissions by altering our behaviour patterns, in our use of electricity and in our transport choices, without any new technology. He is also suggesting that by choosing to put their heads in the sand as far as climate reality is concerned, both politicians and scientists are, for the sake of saving face, putting barriers in the way of really effective measures.
It is up to us to ensure the full story about climate change is told so that decision makers can begin to come to terms with the massive task that faces them and us. Please watch the video; we’d be only too pleased to field questions if you feel moved to post them.
This talk by Professor Kevin Anderson of Manchester University is on the pace of change now required after several decades of delay in tackling climate change.
This powerful and essential argument makes a nonsense of the idea that the most sensible thing to do now is to throw everything at trying to rekindle economic growth.
Chair of Sheffield Green Party, Jon Ashe, says,
“If you’re feeling pessimistic, you might interpret this lecture as implying that global warming in the 21st century is very likely to be 4 degrees C or more, which will probably mean the biggest disaster the human race has seen in the past 10,000 years. But, if you’re feeling proactive, you might interpret it as saying that we have one last chance to avoid that disaster, provided lots of people act now. I’d prefer to be in that latter camp; and I’m sure lots of others share that view.”