Rob Embry & Imogen Michel, ‘Fighting the Change’, Wessex Scene (Southampton), 29 November 2007
We all know about climate change: the polar ice caps, rising sea levels, the Gulf Stream, the ozone layer, deforestation, and David Cameron.
|Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Photo credit: Imogen Michel|
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has now stated that the effects of global warming are happening far earlier than expected. It’s easy to list the problems, but much harder to find the solutions.
The government appears to be leaning towards a nuclear answer to climate change. However, by attempting to avoid one looming disaster we may be leading ourselves into another altogether different catastrophe. Thousands of tons of radioactive waste would be produced if nuclear power is rolled out as Britain’s main source of energy. This waste must be stored securely for up to 100,000 years before its radioactivity is reduced to safe levels. In that time there is a high probability of a natural event within the area, such as an earthquake, which is likely to cause leakage of the nuclear waste. The solution does not lie in nuclear energy but in the democratic provision of local energy through the installation of combined heat and power plants in combination with renewable sources, close to where the energy is needed. This would reduce the energy lost in transit in the national grid, and would provide energy that best suits the needs of local communities.
It is also important to try and reduce our individual carbon footprint, as collectively this may have a great effect in reducing climate change. However we often just take what we are given: for example Greenpeace state that a short haul flight may be cheaper than taking public transport but up to ten times more polluting. Many of the greener options are more expensive, and less accessible; therefore many may go for the cheaper polluting option, without even thinking twice.
Currently there is a lot of emphasis on the individual consumer. This makes little sense when individual efforts alone to reduce climate change are not enough. If the large industries, which produce the majority of the pollution, go unchecked. Some companies appear to be taking the initiative in producing greener products. This is welcome, but is often aimed at increasing profits. Meanwhile, those corporations that cannot increase sales and profits through more environmentally friendly production methods, will continue to pollute our environment. It’s time that we call for an end to this, and that we begin to put people and the planet first, rather than profit. Otherwise all three may very soon cease to exist at all.