28 Feb 2009

Climate change is scary: we must digest realities and see signs of hope

Here is my response to two letters that are critical of an earlier letter to The Citizen about climate change. See my original letter here and further comment here. It was a longer letter than I had meant to write but wanted to address the issues raised - when talking about climate change it is easy to raise fears that are deeply unhelpful but at the same time we need to hear the reality otherwise how can we see the urgency to act....

Photo: mist across Ruscombe valley

My recent letter regarding climate change led to two responses in The Citizen. J. Hillier (25/02/09) called my language 'extreme', suggested I feel people should fear climate change and that it is some sort of 'Green party cause'.

In fact most of what I wrote was repeating what the climate scientists are saying. Indeed I doubt many could read their latest research without finding it scary. I also said in my letter that fear, like denial, can stop us from taking actions. What we need is to find room to digest the realities and also to see that despite the horrors there are signs of hope.

Thankfully it is not just 'greens' that accept the science on climate change: every political party, many corporations and more are on board. J. Hillier notes he has talked with his brother, who has retired from the World Health Organisation, and suggests we need not worry. In fact the WHO reports that climate change impacts have led to 150,000 premature deaths in 2000, many more are forecast and they are also calling for urgent action (i).

This brings me to the anonymous letter (23/02/09) that says childhood is being spoilt by spreading gloom. I agree: our children grow up too fast. Too many are all too aware of the forecasts of climate chaos and the failures by my generation to take the necessary actions.

The letter writer says if I cannot suggest practical moves to tackle the problems then I shouldn't be writing. In fact I've argued repeatedly in these pages, on the Glos Green party website, my blog and elsewhere for what is needed locally and nationally: a Green New Deal, a universal free insulation scheme to all householders, an end to Airport expansions, no new coal plants and much more.

We can create a better future for ourselves and our children, than the one that scientists are forecasting if we don't act. We can stop irreversible climate change - but we need to act together and fast.

Cllr. Philip Booth, Stroud District Green Party.

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