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William Davie Headshot

Bad Atmosphere

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CLIMATE CHANGE
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I didn't think there was a more stupid government appointment made by the Coalition than making Richard Benyon, the undersecretary of state for natural environment, water and rural affairs. Put the richest MP, who also happens to be a massive land owner and a passionate hunter in charge of animals and the countryside? Great idea! Until, that is, Mr Cameron appointed George Eustace as his new advisor on energy and climate change. George 'I hate wind farms' Eustace.

Number 10 has suffered a bit of a climate change exodus recently with several of Cameron's advisers chucking in the towel. It's not surprising really. Despite Cameron attempting to make the Tories more green friendly - including changing the party logo to that ridiculous tree - just like the other two major parties, the Conservatives attitude to the problem of climate change can best be summed up as, "We're not pulling out of the Kyoto Protocols. What more do you want?"

The answer is a lot more. Climate change is a major problem, and one that if not tackled will hamstring the planet within the next few generations. According to Greenpeace, if you scale down the age of the earth to 46 years, humans have only existed for the last hour and in the last minute we have destroyed or used up more of the earth's resources than we can hope to replace. We are doing a bad job of safeguarding the planet for future generations and the government should be doing everything possible to ensure that in 50 years' time we aren't all walking around wearing smog masks like they do in downtown Tokyo.

But it probably won't. It will take a lot to convince the government to get off its backside and do something because, at the end of the day, there is no profit in renewable energy research. In fact, it takes more money to set up then it would initially save, thereby costing people money. On the other hand, there is a lot of money in oil and other more proven energy sources. The government has to balance a need to save money with a need to save the planet and at the end of the day it's clear which way that particular dice will fall. When it comes to a choice between people and profit, profit always wins in the end.

One day, and maybe one day soon, we are going to have to face up to the mistakes we have made when it comes to the climate. I'm not saying we are facing a Day After Tomorrow style extinction event, but whatever happens it's not going to be good. Then we will realise what we should have been doing all along. Of course by then it will be too late. The time to do something is now, while we still have a chance to change things. But until something does happen, a bad atmosphere will still hang over Westminster. An atmosphere of inactivity and unbelief that will probably never go away.

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