The Yokohama IPCC conference has now published its annual conclusions, which, not unexpectedly, are the usual "it's worse than we thought" with the usual fanfare. Of course, the western media have paraded the usual 'Green experts' - notably all from Western Nations' - against background shots of steaming cooling towers at power stations, bleating about how we are all going to drown/choke/die of starvation. Once again I am struck by the fact that the UN 'experts' are all drawn from radical Green, 'Liberal' or decidedly Left-leaning 'developing' nations or ideological organisations (the chairman of the IPCC panel is from Nepal and has pronounced views on 'Social Justice' and 'wealth redistribution').
Reading the reports of their deliberations and seeing the photographs and televised sessions, one does have to laugh at the irony of their railing against 'Big Oil' consumption by the 'Industrialised Nations' - shorthand for 'The Western Democracies' - while sitting on the chairs which would not exist without the hydro-carbon industry, and carrying laptop computers, smart phones and a plethora of other gadgets that could not exists without oil, or the 'energy' they want everyone to shut down.
I have said it before, and I continue to say it. The climate is changing. What I don't believe is that there is a single driver - CO2 and related trace gases - pushing it. This focus on one aspect is blinding the world to several much larger, and, I believe, far more pertinent, problems. Killing the western industrial base and 'redistributing' its wealth won't reverse the climate change, nor will it fix the problem. If anything it will make it far worse. I will cite an example of what I mean.
In 1982 the world watched in horror as a major famine developed in Ethiopia, and we were bombarded by images of starving and dying children. Various celebrities and pop-stars rushed to respond with 'Band AID' and raised millions, sending in emergency food Aid, medical assistance and so on. What I see nowhere in the media today is the fact that Ethiopia, Somalia and a couple of their neighbours have trebled their populations, famine is again endemic, but, instead of reorganising and addressing the root problem the local governments and the UN are pouring even more 'Aid' in and sustaining the problem.
Yes, humans do impact the climate, but in ways I don't see anyone discussing. In the UK and Europe, flood plains are being built over. Even where we have not built in a flood plain, we pave vast areas, reducing the land's ability to absorb the water and this increase the 'run off'. Greenpeace and other 'ecological' organisations have their placemen in the Environment Agency who block any attempt to get sea defences rebuilt and maintained, or to have drainage channels dredged and rivers cleared - so flooding does increase. Britain's population has trebled since the 1940s, and housing, with all the additional paving and run-off from drainage has as well.
In the Indus valley, millions of people are tilling, building and paving the flood plain, and historians would know that the events of a couple of years ago were a repeat of an event on the late 1880s. On that occasion the flooding displaced huge numbers of people and killed thousands, but we didn't have the mass media and television to beam it into everyones home. Ergo, in the modern mind it didn't happen. Even the Band AID crisis in Ethiopia is now on the edge of memory. Most of those now marching for 'action on the climate' or rushing about symbolically turning off lights to save the planet weren't born when it happened.
Another of the ironies of the 'Green' campaigning is their refusal to accept the need to adapt our food production. Far too many seem to be wedded to the idea that the world can be returned to some sort of subsistence economy with cottage industries, barter and mutual ownership of everything. They seem to be dreaming of a world that has never existed, and probably can never exist. The main objection to GM foods is always presented as 'ecological and health risks' but the truth is these have been addressed comprehensively. The real reason they object is actually that the companies that have done the research and invested vast amounts of money developing grains that need less water, produce higher yields, have less gluten, more Vitamin A or D and are less susceptible to destruction by insects, will 'make a profit' from their work. It comes across very strongly that their objection would be instantly withdrawn if Monsanto, DuPont and others handed everything over to the UN or some other 'non-profit' organisation to be distributed 'free'.
I firmly believe that we must adapt if we are to ride out the effects of Climate Change. My travels to some of the supposed 'beauty' spots and 'tropical paradises' - probably because I haven't gone as a 'tourist' have shown me the image of 'Paradise Lost' with fouled rivers running with raw sewage, forests decimated, not for western profit, but for firewood for exploding populations, beaches littered with plastic and other waste, and animals being poisoned, shot and driven to extinction as ever increasing numbers of people try to scratch a living from ever decreasing areas of usable land.
Sadly, I think I may saying the unsayable, but I think we are looking the wrong way on climate change.