Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The Guardian has published a hilariously confused post, which seems to claim that climate change is important, vital, and big, but we should focus on other issues, and kindof let climate take care of itself.
It is the greatest environmental hazard of the age. Nothing focuses our concern for the future more, divides rich and poor, exercises science, business, politicians, old and young. It is an existential threat, a generational battle. All political and financial resources must be concentrated on stopping climate change.
But now that governments have signed up to the unambitious Paris climate agreement and pledged to try to limit greenhouse gas emissions, we must ask whether we have lost sight of everything else. Is the environment just about carbon and parts per million of gases in the atmosphere? What about the environment that we can smell, see and touch today?
For 20 years or more concerns about nuclear waste, food production, the quality of river water, the health of our soils and seas, the fate of our forests, the impact of road-building and many other important ecological issues have been steadily marginalised, starved of resources or pushed off the agenda by climate change.
Most heinous of all the sins of emissions is what has happened to our air quality since climate change climbed the political agenda 20 years ago. No government wants us to know that far more people will suffer grievous illnesses and will die from the filthy air shrouding our cities than from any warming of the atmosphere in the next 30 years. Climate change may give us a glimpse of the terrifying future we are heading towards if we don’t change our ways, but toxic air is already here, and killing us in ever greater numbers.
We have been distracted by climate change and have let governments dictate the agenda. Now we must return to basics, and address all those issues that have been conveniently dropped. Who will get angry about the degradation of water quality, the plague of plastic in our seas? Mining? What about computer and smart phone waste? Litter? Population control? Endangered species? Unless we address mass consumption – the root of our environmental crisis – climate change will not only worsen, we will be left with a degraded world.
Rather than solely trying to tackle the vast problem of climate change, we must address all the many factors which make it worse. It’s a case of looking after the green pennies and letting the green pounds take care of themselves.
A few days ago, WUWT highlighted how greens are trying to find a replacement for the failed climate scare. I think the plastic pollution crisis is pulling ahead of the field, but the filthy air crisis might still be in the race.