We have to act urgently
Denial of climate change, partly caused by burning fossil fuels, is increasingly untenable. The evidence – scientific and weather-based – is now widely accepted by the United Nations, world governments, including the UK, and reputable scientists. We have more extreme climate events: floods, droughts, glacial and ice cap melting, plus human interventions such as deliberately started forest fires. Ice coverage of Greenland and the Arctic is declining alarmingly. This affects the habitats of animals like polar bears. An ice-free shipping lane across northern Siberia has appeared. Many parts of Africa are suffering from crop failure and drought. California is short of water. Rising sea levels cause more flooding in low-lying countries, increasingly threatening their very existence. These changes partly cause population migration from countries like Sudan, Ethiopia or Chad.
Burning fossil fuels such as coal, shale gas and oil, causes CO2 to accumulate in the atmosphere. This makes temperatures rise globally and encourages climate change at an alarming rate. If we burn more coal in power stations and fail to capture CO2 we’re making a serious problem even worse. Most countries now realise this and they’re moving from coal and gas-based generation, as well as focusing on saving energy. This also helps to tackle deadly pollution in cities like Beijing.
There’s only one deep-level coal mine left in Britain. If we build more coal-fired power stations, the coal will have to be imported. How would that improve energy security and our trade deficit?
Nuclear power is extremely expensive. It’s heavily subsidised especially because the enormous costs of dealing with radioactive waste are paid by us taxpayers, not the electricity companies. There are very serious risks with nuclear power: think of Windscale, Chernobyl and Fukushima. Imagine a terrorist attack on a nuclear plant like Sellafield.
We need to switch to renewable, sustainable energy generation.
Tidal power is a positive development, so is hydro-electricity.
Solar power is growing in importance globally, imagine how it could convert desert sunshine into power.
Wind power is increasingly important in Britain. Renewables are now generating more energy than nuclear power: a British engineering success story we should be proud of, and one which fosters self-reliance, right down to local community level.
Climate change is here. Most sensible people and politicians know this. It must be tackled if we’re to survive. Denial just delays the time for urgent action.
Friends of the Earth
Support the farm industry
I agree with Prince Charles’ call on city dwellers to support the ‘invisible’ farming industry which, he argues, is crucial to the nation’s prosperity.
As he suggests, it is easy for those who live in urban areas to forget how much the UK depends on those who have farmed the land for generations. We ‘townies’ never give a thought to how much we depend on many family farms and others to keep us well-fed.
We have always relied on them to feed us, whatever the weather throws at them, and hopefully in the coming uncertain years, they will continue to do so with whatever help is required.
Our farmers are some of the most efficient in the world and should be encouraged to continue in the same vein by all means available.
Terry Palmer via email