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Saturday 31 May 2008

Poor us, fuel costs and the next generations

I had an interesting experience this week. A work colleague of mine was bemoaning the rapid rise in fuel costs as her taxi business is tipping over into unprofitability. It was hard to be unsympathetic because she works very hard and doesn't make much money (her job isn't well paid) - there are thousands of people in her sort of situation - so I expressed sympathy and nothing more.

The problem I had being just sympathetic was that things aren't going to get any easier and everyone actually knows this. Basically, her industry has no future unless it changes and the best thing to say would be to move out of it and do something else because the government isn't subsidising change and doesn't seem likely to. But I didn't say that.

There's a weird disconnect where everyone realises oil is running out, carbon is accumulating and most know the future climate will change with very bad impacts for coming generations.

How we're reacting to this as individuals is pretty badly, I was also thinking this whilst reading Can the ecohackers save us? in The Guardian
Many scientists now believe the Earth can be altered to tackle global warming. But are these geoengineers being overly optimistic?
People want to put iron in the oceans, reflectors between us and the sun, and shoot sulfur into the atmosphere. You have to think that somewhere, something like this will actually happen and have some sort of disastrous unforeseen global impact.

At the end of the article one scientist says "[actually] the simplest thing is to stop putting in the gases that cause the warming."

The problem being, of course, that this means some selfless behaviour for the benefit of future generations, change, especially of lifestyles we're used to, and 'little' things like whole industries - such as taxis - changing radically if they're not to go to the wall. None of which we yet seem to be very good at or forcing politicians to enable or, in my case, consistently arguing for, even when it's very difficult.

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