Getting Political & working together
Climate change is a hard subject to discuss because, whilst it is so serious and important, I can see that it goes against our basic instincts to actually deal with it. Life is tough enough, and it is in our nature to worry about the day-to-day, rather than what the world will be like in 40 years time. For all of the things that you and I do to help reduce our impact on the atmosphere, we are small fish in a large sea of people. It is obvious that we can't sort all of this out ourselves. However, we can do a lot more if we work together; especially if we make sure that our elected leaders take the issue seriously and make sure it is a political priority to reduce our emissions.
We need to talk about this: share ideas with our friends, families, colleagues, favourite restaurants, band members. With a bit of mutual support it should be easier to make changes to our lifestyles.
We also need to start thinking about the extremely un-English concept of challenging people! Being decadent and wasteful of energy should become as socially unacceptable as smoking. Are you ready to challenge the pub owner about her patio heater...or think about taking your business elsewhere?
And of course we must not forget about being politically active. Which way did you vote last time (assuming you did vote)? What does your local MP think about climate change? Is it high on his/her agenda? What about your EU representative and your local council politicians?
"We haven't got much time to turn things around. That is why it is so important that we don't allow our politicians to let climate change slip down the priority list. We need to set and meet world-leading emissions reduction targets: something that is going to be even harder with the weak outcome from the Copenhagen summit."
- These people are the ones that make the laws, and make the decisions about the big infrastructure things in your world. And they do it in your name.
- Remember that they must bow to what you want, because they cannot get into power without your votes.
- Remember as well that politics does not stop at the ballot box. You can talk to your MP - make them well aware of how important all of this is to you. You can e-mail them...hassle them if you are not happy.
- And if you feel the need there are organisations like the Campaign against Climate Change which organise demonstrations that you can be part of.
Some bigger ideas that you might want to consider
- Note the conclusions to the Emissions Targets pages: if the UK meets its targets we are in a strong position to lead the world, and make sure that we globally sort out the climate change problem. This will effect all of our lifestyles but we must not allow our politicians to lose sight of this.
- Good work is being done nationally, and on the international stage which should be encouraged. We have a lot to be hopeful for: the new president of the USA is pushing for change; China - who manufacture a lot of our stuff - are setting encouraging targets for renewable energy.
- Should we change the tax system to tax things according to their carbon footprint, rather than their financial value?
- Do we want to install things to help us reduce our energy consumption? E.g. we could have limiters on our fuse boxes that stop you running to many appliences at the same time...and maybe trip out if you reach your daily electricity limit.
- Can we rely on "retrofitting" our homes and offices or do we need to think about rebuilding more energy efficient houses and offices? We are going to think about keeping them cool as well as hot. It might be worth looking to countries that are feeling the effects of climate change already (e.g. Australia) for ideas.
- We need to think about infrastructure changes. We might need to live closer together, e.g. Combined Heating and Power (CHP) schemes distributing waste heating from power stations to heat our homes and offices. Living in closer communities, reducing transport costs, will have a lot of social benefits...as well as a few challenges.
- We need to think about how much money, effort and hope to put into research that might come up with great new ways of generating energy. Nuclear fusion would be fantastic but will it really solve all our problems? And will it ever work? Also: are we pinning too much hope on Carbon Capture and Storage schemes - are they really going to allow us to continue using our coal-fired power stations?
- We might need to think about banning some things. Should we make non-rechargeable batteries, standby button, and energy inefficient throw-away stuff illegal? If we do we should think about phasing them out, like the incandescent light bulb: give industry 5 years to come up with alternatives before enforcing the ban.
- There is money to be made and new economics to think about, which ought not to be too concerning as we need to change things anyway in this post credit crunch world.
- We need to Make poverty history (see Oxfam's website). This is not just because we need to care about the developing world that is likely to be affected more by climate change...although that should be a good enough reason! With better education and more stable lives, people will be happier to reduce their family sizes, which will help curb the population explosion.
- We need to think about how we are going to defend our county from the changing world. Note that a lot of work is being done by organisations like the Environment Agency (e.g. Thames Estuary 2100 project looking at how to defend London against rising sea levels). What are we going to do about all of the displaced people of the world that are desperate to find safety on these shores though?
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