Liberal Democrats

Kay Barnard

Working For You

A few weeks ago I went along to hear Sir Mark Walport, the government science adviser, talking about climate change.  His presentation wasn’t about how to prepare for likely changes in weather patterns but more about how the evidence is stacking up that we really need to take the issue seriously.

To me as a scientist the evidence is pretty convincing.  OK - our records on climate and CO2 levels are not complete, but like tobacco and lung cancer, there are strong correlations.  Smoking cannot be proved conclusively to be the cause of a single case of lung cancer but most of us accept that there is a strong link and a real risk.

We rely on energy harvested from the sun eons ago by plant life. That is now stored in the ground as oil, gas and coal.  We are rapidly eating into that store and making quite modest efforts to find other ways of supplying our current needs.  Very little is talked about cutting down, even though a GP would be advising a smoker to do just that.  We are like addicts for energy and the cheap goods it produces.  Our vulnerability on oil and gas supplies from Russia has been underlined by the Russian takeover of the Crimea.  Add in the instability in the Middle East and the size of the problem becomes clear.

In the South West we have a wonderful concentration of companies determined to change the source of our energy.  Cornwall in particular is a great centre for research in alternative green technologies.

Here in the South West we are also first in line for the dramatic consequences of high energy storms which have occurred in the last few years: the flooding in Somerset, the broken sea defences in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset.

We have concentrated on newness as a virtue in consumer goods.  We should be looking at our own lifestyles as part of the remedy for the problems we will face in the future.

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