Photo: © Copyright K A and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.
I can still vividly remember the ‘hanging chads’ of the 2000 US Presidential election and with them the hopes of tackling Global Warming through the election Al Gore as president. Unfortunately, the chads favoured George Bush, and I felt a great sense of anguish as the opportunity to seriously tackle climate change slipped away. The USA subsequently turned its back on truly meaningful action and maintained support for burning fossil fuels. Carbon fuel companies who were beginning to change direction reset their compasses to business as usual. Who could have realised then that there could be a US president far worse than George Bush with regard to climate change?
In 2010, David Cameron was elected UK prime minister, partly on a charade of semi-green policies. Instead, the UK embraced fracking for carbon fuel in the countryside. This crude and dirty way of acquiring energy belongs to the last century. Lancashire has only just rid itself of the scars of that other form, coal, and we now have the ludicrous situation of commercial fracking in Lancashire coming at exactly the same time as the desperate last minute warning from the IPPC that we must cease such activity.
Why is the right wing of politics so in love with the energy sources of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? Such ancient fuels involve digging up the ground and leaving a trail of destruction. Once dug up, the stuff has to be burned to create steam to rotate a turbine. Are we still in the steam age? Why not put this nonsense behind us?
Today, we can put up modern solar power arrays or windmills and simply plug them into the grid – bingo, immediate power with no destruction, health hazards or global warming. Its clean, sophisticated and beautiful. Through tidal power, renewable energy can be scaled up enormously. Instead, the UK government has deliberately slowed down green industry and undermined the creative businesses that develop it. The great progress and vision of the 1990s and early 2000s has stalled.
There have been too many wasted years. We must move on from this damaging anti-modern stuff – and very quickly as the IPPC report makes clear.