The world has finally woken up and the media and mainstream politicians are suddenly talking about climate change. Not about the supposed debate surrounding climate change or the reasons the Earth can't be warming up and everything else we have had to tolerate for the last decade, but the actual C-word in all it's controversial glory, as that thing that is actually happening, that scientists have been predicting for decades. In fact Carl Sagan predicted it as far back as 1980 in his book Cosmos, and he got the science right by focusing on greenhouse gases and predicting that a rise in human-made CO2 would destable our planet.
The Greens have been talking sense about environmental policy for some time now but we've been too busy battling trolls to take note of it and only in the wake of recent, global extreme weather events are other politicians finally catching up. Unfortunately it's a common phenomenon that people believe in climate change when the weather is extreme but forget all about it when the sun is shining again at a nice temperature. As well, the ongoing record rainfall and resulting floods around the UK have caused much alarm but the many unusual heatwaves experienced in summer 2013 failed to conjure up the C-word as that freak weather was generally deemed to be desirable by most Brits. It seems that with the recent storms in Britain the floodgates on climate change have been opened, though there are still plenty of people trying to prevent the discussion from moving forward.
The 'cycles' argument is still being bandied about by climate deniers but there is a simple response to this, which is to agree that climate cycles exist as it's true that the Earth has always created carbon and absorbed it, and that this has caused changes in weather patterns, however the exponential rise in manmade carbon production has led to there being more CO2 in the atmosphere than trees can absorb and store, and there is a direct correlation between how much carbon humans are producing and how much is left in the atmosphere because it cannot be absorbed. Scientists can actually measure this, and also look at the type of carbon left behind which is now predominantly from human sources but was once only from natural sources.
There are also still plenty of people on the fence, staking out the middle ground, stuck talking about weather cycles and other things that supposedly disprove anthropogenic climate change, while providing no evidence or ending the discussion out with 'not doing politics' when contradicted. This isn't about politics, even if the politicians are now capitalising on our fear of extreme weather becoming more frequent. This isn't even about what anyone 'believes', as the science really doesn't care what anyone believes. This is about the health of our planet and the survival of our species and many others. Science is a beacon of light in the dark and without it we would all be blind, and the same individuals who talk about cycles do not argue with their doctors when they are given treatment, nor do they turn away prescription drugs. Yet all health treatment comes from science, which keeps us away from superstitious beliefs and voodoo, and attempts to right itself along the way should an error occur. Let's stop listening to the voodoo propagators and focus instead on what needs to be done, what the ruling party needs to do to get us out of this mess.
Back in the world of politics Ed Miliband has said that 'Britain is sleepwalking to a climate crisis', and while the polar vortex is gripping the States in its icy fingers Senator John Kerry has called climate change a 'weapon of mass destruction' and is due to make a speech that will apparently convince all climate deniers of the truth of the C-word. The trolls are surprisingly silent on these topics and I suspect that they are waiting for the extreme weather to settle down before rearing their ugly heads, a clever tactic for those in the climate denial movement, who are primed to attack when we are at our weakest. But while the world leaders begin to prattle on the new theme of climate emergency and its relation to national security (which is particularly concerning because there is no one to aim a bomb at but ourselves), none of the main Parties are talking about the preventative measures needed to halt or at least slow climate change in its tracks fast.
David Cameron once said the coalition would be 'the greenest government ever', and he could still hold true to this promise. Now that Cameron has caught on and openly stated that there appears to be a link between the extreme weather we have been experiencing and what science has been warning us about for years, he can move on and start addressing the perpetrators of CO2 pollution, which include Big Oil, coal power plants, fracking bodies, and also the world's governments themselves by setting strict carbon footprint targets that can't be offset. Now is the time to invest in renewable energy in the UK, build energy-efficient housing, heavily subsidise solar panels for homeowners, distribute free compost bins and allotments, and reduce waste collection services. We also need to cut subsidies given to the fossil fuel industry, tax the biggest polluters including those in the aviation industry, ban fracking, stop building houses on floodplains, protect greenbelt areas and renovate unused and empty properties instead of slicing up the countryside with new housing developments. We need to invest in a desperately-needed public transport system and by that I mean create UK-wide viable alternatives to driving, not just build train tracks to replace those that have been washed away by the recent storms.
Now a load of people are stuck talking about dredging which will almost certainly fail to prevent further flooding from occurring, and other temporary 'cures' like setting up flood relief funds instead of sending the money overseas as aid, and so on. This isn't enough and it isn't looking at the causes of climate change and what we need to do to stop it. We need to act now and act fast, but not in the typical political lip-service that the C-words have now descended into. The Green Party of England and Wales has called for a purge of government advisers and ministers who support climate denial and that's a crucial start, but there is much more work to be done than that. This is bigger than politics and it impacts up all. Don't buy into the idea that there is a single cure for climate change - it's preventative measures we need to discuss.