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Sunday, 22 February 2009

"The unemployed builders of Europe should be insulating all the houses of Europe"

Climate change is real, as anyone who has been to the Arctic knows. But we live in a world which is a little distracted at the moment by, er, global economic meltdown.

In this situation, the coming disaster of climate change has disappeared as ordinary people worry about now (rather than, say, their children's future). Short-tern profit, which is a big part of the banking disaster, also applies to the way the oil corporations operate, and they are the ones fueling climate change denial.

So it's a little difficult, given the usual politics, which we're still in, to get any buy-in to the sort of real meltdown which we face.

Waiting for a trip to Antarctica, to view the pools of melted water accumulating on the glaciers, Baron Nicolas Stern could have been speaking to the four winds in saying that if we don't deal with climate change decisively, "what we're talking about then is extended world war."

Later, at dinner, the heavyweights heard from smaller or poorer nations about the trials they face as warming disrupts climate, turns some regions drier, threatens food production in poor African nations.

Jose Endundo, environment minister of Congo, said he recently visited huge Lake Victoria in nearby Uganda, at 80,000 square kilometers (31,000 square miles) a vital source for the Nile River, and learned the lake level had dropped 3 meters (10 feet) in the past six years _ a loss blamed in part on warmer temperatures and diminishing rains.

In the face of such threats, "the rich countries have to give us a helping hand," the African minister said.

It's not happening. And western electorates just aren't interested (except in drought-ridden Australia), therefore their politicians aren't either.

Stern, drawing on the accumulated evidence, says:
"People would move on a massive scale. Hundreds of millions, probably billions of people would have to move if you talk about 4-, 5-, 6-degree increases" _ 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. And that would mean extended global conflict, "because there's no way the world can handle that kind of population move in the time period in which it would take place."

And this won't affect the UK? Our elderly future and the future of our kids?

So why aren't the various economic 'bailouts' focused on, as Stern puts it, getting "The unemployed builders of Europe insulating all the houses of Europe"?

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