I finished writing the book that is featured on this website in May 2016 and the EU referendum had not yet occurred. Since then, there have been some momentous political events, many of which will have an effect on climate change. Quite clearly, at the time of writing the last pages of the book, there was huge media attention on the referendum, most of which was attempting to influence people on the way they voted. Much of what was written in the papers was lies. At the time, I felt that all of this media attention was a distraction from the big issues facing the world and society as a whole. In the book, I wrote that, in the light of the major issue of climate change, whether we stayed in or went out of Europe was neither here nor there. It was not the biggest issue that required media attention. Climate change was.
And yet, the media clamour over the whole issue has continued, distracting attention more and more away from the urgent issue of doing something about climate change. It took a few months to get the book published and into print and I was able to write an addendum, which started to address these issues. I now wish to build on them.
Firstly, there has been something of a panic in certain quarters about how leaving the EU will affect Britain’s economy. This is mainly because favourable trading arrangements with EU countries may well be lost, leading to a reduction in the sales of British goods overseas and subsequent effects on the balance of payments. As a result, the new Prime Minister has been dashing hither and thither across the world, trying to establish new trading links with non-EU countries. Establishing trading links further afield will have an adverse effect on climate change because of the longer journeys that will need to be made to take British goods to these far-flung countries, leading to the burning of more fossil fuels on the way. What is now needed is a new radical approach, in which our thinking about the economy is completely rethought and overhauled. I started to write about this in chapters 4 and 7 of my book but there are others, with much greater knowledge of economics than me, who have taken this further and who are writing about a new way forward. One of these writers in Colin Hines in his book “Progressive Protectionism”.
Secondly, there has been a new president in the United States of America, Donald Trump. A man who is both ultra-racist and a misogynist. A man with a big business background who has been a climate change denier for years. He is placing in his team, other men from the big corporations, who also deny the existence of climate change, one of them being the former CEO of ExxonMobil, the largest corporation in the world, whose anti-climate actions are described in chapter 4 of my book. ExxonMobil leaders knew about fossil fuels and global warming as long ago as the 70’s yet, instead of spearheading research into finding new sources of renewable energy, they put their money into setting up a body which would publish false information about the effects of fossil fuels on global warming and climate change. They are the ones who are responsible for the danger that our planet is in at the moment – all of them climate-change-deniers. It is also likely that Trump will revoke all of the progressive pro-climate measures that were introduced by the former President, Barack Obama. Donald Trump also supports the concept of protectionism but in a regressive way, rather than a progressive way. In chapter 4 of my book, I indicate some of the ways in which each country can trade in order to protect both the environment and local economies.
Thirdly, there seems to be a global swing towards supporting populist extreme-right politicians and in discrediting “experts” opinions on a number of issues, including climate change. I have posted a Media Lens article on this website, which gives more details on this. As a scientist myself, it is important to me to have well-researched evidence to look at, when taking decisions about the stance I will take on particular decisions. It would appear that the populist hoards have no such respect for expert opinion, especially if it does not support their own emotion-led and biased opinions on a number of issues, including climate change.
Fourthly, in chapter 6 of my book, I discuss the carbon footprint of war, including nuclear war. In recent weeks there has been media reporting on a “failed” practice test of a British Trident warhead, which veered off course and had to be destroyed. Fortunately, it contained no nuclear material but the incident has stimulated a discussion among scientists, who are part of the body, Scientists for Global Responsibility. It would appear that this was not the first time a firing had gone wrong – there have been several before it – and it would appear that the whole system is outdated and dangerous. And yet, Theresa May’s government have just approved a further renewal of the Trident missile, at a cost of billions of pounds. And only this week, there has been a report from Japan, that the Fukushima nuclear power station, which was destroyed in 2011 by a tsunami, is still emitting radioactivity that is way above the safe level for humans. All of the evidence of the danger of nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear power is being ignored by politicians.
These are worrying times.