HUMANITY’S ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT & WHY WE MAY HAVE JUST 60 HARVESTS LEFT – 09/07/18
If everyone in the world had the same lifestyle as the average person in Britain, humanity would need 3 planets to provide us with all the resources we consume, and absorb all the wastes and carbon emissions that we produce.
Politicians often talk about our national debt. But you rarely if ever hear them mention our colossal ecological debt. Yet the fact is we are living way beyond our means, as if there was a planetary credit card we could draw on with no limit on it.
But we can’t. We live on a finite planet. Politicians may promise constant economic growth. But the consequences of this model is that We are changing the planet’s climate, driving one third of the world’s species to extinction, we are running out of clean water, people are dying from air pollution, and we have just 60 harvest left before our soils run out of fertility.
Let that last figure sink in. We will no longer be able to grow the food we need to eat within our and our children’s lifetimes because the soils they grow in will be so depleted of fertility that crops will fail.
Of all the challenges we face in this century, the biggest one is figuring out how we meet the basic needs of all the world’s people – and do so in a way that doesn’t leave future generations paying the price. We face a choice – we either change the wat we live, work and play, or we fail. With deadly consequences.
Learning how to live in a way that is compatible with the natural limits of our planet, that is respectful of other living creatures, that is equitable is the question that should be paramount for governments, businesses and citizens alike. The food we eat and how we grow it, the materials we use and how we extract them, the work we do and how we get to our places of work, our homes and how they are built and powered, even our holidays and leisure activities – all of these are in need of root and branch change.
If we can figure out how we can build a world where people everywhere can lead happy, healthy lives within their fair share of the earth’s resources and leave space for wildlife and wilderness, we will have cracked it. The challenge for politicians and businesses is how they can help enable us to live sustainably in a way that is easy, affordable and attractive.
While for us, it’s about making positive changes today, not tomorrow, and telling political and corporate leaders the changes we want them to make.
For more on this story, listen to the interview with Dr Mathis Wackernagel on episode 4 of our podcast:
DON’T HUNT AFRICA’S LAST ELEPHANTS! – 02/07/18
Africa’s largest remaining elephant population is under threat from moves to make trophy hunting legal again.
The population of elephants has plummeted in recent years – there were over 1 million African elephants as recently as the 1970s, and perhaps as many as 5 or even 10 million at the beginning of the 20th century.
Botswana is now last safe haven for the animal. The southern African nation is home to around 130,000 elephants: one third of an estimated total population of 400-450,000 animals. The country has twice as many elephants as any other African nation.
Elephants once extended as far as the north African coast. But in the last 40 years alone it has lost around half of its range. Ivory poaching and trophy hunting have been among the key contributors to the drop in its numbers. Less than 20% of its current habitat is in protected areas. There have been warnings that it could be just 10 years away from extinction.
In 2014, Botswana’s then-President Ian Khama banned all trophy hunting in the country because of declining numbers. And earlier this year Khama also criticised the US President Donald Trump for lifting the ban on the import of some elephant trophies.
The numbers of elephants illegally killed in Botswana since the ban came into place have been few in recent years. The ban also led to an upsurge in nature and eco-tourism.
However new President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who took up office in April of this year, has launched a consultation exercise about the lifting of the hunting ban. And it’s now been reported that Botswana’s Parliament has voted through a motion which calls for an urgent lifting of the ban to be considered.
The bill asks the government to look at lifting the ban in areas that are not designated as game reserves or national parks. MPs who back the move argue that the current ban has not only led to an increase in the number of elephants, but also to a rise in poaching.
During the debate, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane said that human-wildlife conflicts have increased in recent years. Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi confirmed to reporters last month that the government would now be opening discussions on lifting the hunting ban.
The decision last November by US President Donald Trump to allow elephant trophies to be imported into the US is particularly significant. Two out of every 3 trophy hunters is American. And Since the year 2000, the US has imported nearly 5,000 elephant trophies.
Trophy hunting of elephants is currently allowed in Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia, as well as in Zimbabwe and South Africa. some of these countries have seen dramatic falls in elephant numbers. In Zimbabwe, the population has collapsed by between 40 to 75% in different parts of the country. Despite this, Zimbabwe has the largest quota for trophy tusks of any country.
In Tanzania, the elephant population has fallen by 60% in just 5 years, and has halved in Mozambique. both continue to allow trophy hunting.
Zambia had one of Africa’s largest elephant populations in the late 1960s, with numbers estimated at over 200,000. Now though there could be fewer than 10,000 animals remaining. Despite an official ban on trophy hunting that came into force in 1982, Zambia allows around 80 elephant trophies every year.
In Namibia, it’s estimated that nearly 6,000 foreign trophy hunters come to the country every year.
And it’s not just elephants that are under threat from the commercial hunting industry.
A number of species popular with trophy hunters have seen sharp falls in their numbers in recent years to the point where there are now fears they could soon vanish. As well as elephants, rhinoceroses, leopards, cheetahs and lions are the most favoured animals for trophy hunters… and are also the species who have seen some of the biggest populations crashes.
Rhinos are now facing an increasingly uphill battle for survival. The black rhino is listed as critically endangered, and the northern white rhino is now extinct in the wild. Yet South Africa and Namibia continue to allow trophy hunting in their respective countries. The United States imported over 500 southern white rhino trophies during the last 15 years, and two critically endangered black rhino.
Leopards are fast disappearing from many areas. However it’s still legal to hunt them for sport in no fewer than 13 African countries. Zimbabwe alone allows 500 leopards to be killed as trophies every year. Around 2,500 leopards have been killed in Tanzania over the past 10 years. The US was the largest importer of leopard trophies.
Cheetahs are also in a state of rapid decline, having vanished from over three-quarters of their historic range in recent years. It’s thought that numbers may have fallen by more than 30%. Nevertheless, Namibia and Zimbabwe continue to offer a combined annual quota of 200 cheetah trophies to hunters.
And lions face perhaps the biggest threat of all. The number legally hunted for trophies over the past decade was around 10,000. There could now be fewer than 20,000 lions remaining in the wild.
Incredibly it is still legal to hunt and kill lions for sport in all 6 countries in which it is still found. The price tag of a wild lion is as much as $100,000 each or more. those with smaller wallets can choose a lion from one of South Africa’s canned hunting farms, where a semi-tame lion in an enclosure makes for easy pickings. Never has the cliché shooting fish in a barrel seemed more appropriate.
In the past, some conservation groups such as IUCN and WWF have argued that well-managed trophy hunting provided revenue and incentives for people to conserve wildlife populations, and therefore could help protect wildlife from threats such as poaching.
However it’s an argument that doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. Although conservation groups have sometimes benefited, revenues rarely reach those at a local level, Even the IUCN admitted in a report that ‘The local community’s share is around US $0.10 per hectare explaining their lack of interest in preserving hunting areas and their continued encroachment and poaching.’
According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, Trophy hunting brings in almost negligible revenue compared to wildlife watching, with trophy hunting accounting for just 1.8 percent of total tourism revenue compared to 80% for wildlife watching. Few local people are taken on as trackers or other workers on game farms. And there have been complaints that the big fees paid by trophy hunters vanish due to corruption and mismanagement.
There are now fears that climate change could magnify the damage done by trophy hunting. Scientists have warned that trophy hunters kill the strongest and most beautiful animals – leaving the ones who are less able to adapt to change. This affects the species’ gene pool and future generations. Killing healthy adult males – who are the most common targets for big cat hunters – can also have a devastating impact on regional populations. Elephants may be particularly prone to this phenomenon, as hunters will invariably target those with the biggest tusks – the size of a tusk being a good indicator of the health of an animal. Removing these elephants from the species’ gene pool could precipitate rapid local extinctions.
With numbers now apparently in freefall, it’s also argued that we are fast approaching the point where the killing of a single individual could represent another death blow to the chances of a species’ survival.
The fact is that there is yet to be any evidence that supports the claim that trophy hunting is clearly beneficial to the conservation status of a vulnerable species. All the species of wildlife that have trophy hunting quotas have seen continued if not accelerated declines in their populations. If Botswana were to lift the ban on what is now by far the world’s most important population of African elephants, it could spell the death knoll for this incredible animal.
In the past few days, there have been unconfirmed reports that Botswana’s President is considering shelving the lifting of the ban. Our attempts to get clarification from the Botswana authorities have not been answered. Let’s hope though that the rumours prove to be true – and that there is still hope for the African elephant.
TIME TO GET TOUGH ON HUNT THUGS & ON ILLEGAL HUNTING – 25/06/18
Two men – father and son George and Thomas Grant – have walked free from court after having been found guilty at Leicester Crown Court of grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm, theft, and criminal damage. The two men were part of a gang of 6 hunt supporters – 4 of them in balaclavas – who had brutally assaulted former police officer Darryl Cunnington who, along with a colleague, was monitoring the Belvoir Hunt on behalf of a wildlife charity. The pair had come across Cunnington and Roger Swaine, hunt monitors for the League Against Cruel Sports, with video cameras near a public bridleway.
The court heard that George Grant, a terrier-man for the hunt, had told his son Thomas to: “Go and get the boys and come back”. Thomas Grant had then ridden off on a quad bike and returned with a pickup vehicle. The 6 men then proceeded to carry out their vicious assault – after which they threw Cunnington off a 14 foot ledge. Cunnington was left with a broken neck in 3 places.
Not content with that, his attackers climbed down to where he lay paralysed and proceeded to stamp on him. His colleague Roger was beaten unconscious and left with head injuries. When he regained consciousness, he immediately called the emergency services. It took a special 6-wheel drive paramedic vehicle 3 hours to move Cunnington out of the gully strapped to a spine board where he was taken to hospital.
The next morning he learned he had suffered a broken neck. Doctors told him that if the fractures had been even a couple of millimetres to one or other side, he could have been permanently paralysed – or even killed. Cunnington had to wear a neck brace for the next 3 months. He needed help with bathing, and had to sleep sitting upright in bed.
The Grants were arrested and bailed later the same day. However when they were questioned they refused to give the identities of the other 4 men. It took 2 years for the case to come to court, largely because police tried but failed to retrieve potentially incriminating footage recorded on one of the stolen cameras’ memory cards. The card had apparently been deliberately damaged, leaving it unreadable.
After initially pleading not guilty, the two changed their plea. On June 14th they were sentenced. They were each given a suspended prison sentence, community service, and told to pay £500 to Cunnington. They walked out of court free men.
During sentencing, the judge said of the Grants: “Both of you flipped. Neither of you are by nature violent men.” This appears to conflict with the evidence heard in court, where George Grant’s words to his son to go and get the other men, and the coordinated attack on Cunnington and Swaine by the gang of 6, would suggest a pre-meditated action by the group as opposed to a spontaneous ‘over-reaction’ by an individual.
It also emerged that a character reference for George Grant had been given by Lady Sarah McCorquodale. McCorquodale is the older sister of the late Princess Diana – and joint master of the Belvoir Hunt for whom Mr Grant is the terrierman.
The outcome provoked an uproar, including from legendary explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Fiennes, who joined a Countryside Alliance march against the Hunting Act when it was first proposed, has since become a supporter of keeping hunting illegal. He wrote privately to Theresa May on the day she became Prime Minister asking her to keep repeal of the Hunting Act off the agenda. He also spoke at the Conservative Party conference that same year – refusing to be intimidated by members of the Countryside Alliance – and publicly joined lobbies of Parliament calling for animal cruelty sentences to be increased to up to 5 years in jail.
The ruling in this case left him incensed. He wrote to the Attorney General demanding that the sentence be reviewed on grounds of undue leniency. He pointed out that the two men convicted of the offences had repeatedly refused to cooperate with the police investigation’s efforts to identify the other 4 men involved in carrying out the attack, who remain at large, and that they had shown no remorse for their actions or concern for their victims and the serious injuries they had inflicted upon them.
He reminded the Attorney General that Cunnington had suffered life-threatening injuries, and argued that allowing the two men to walk free from court could be interpreted as a ‘green light’ for hunt supporters to commit serious assaults against anyone monitoring, observing or even in the vicinity of a hunt.
There is now a real fear that not only could hunts feel they can assault hunt monitors and saboteurs with impunity, but that it is only a matter of time before someone gets killed.
It won’t be the first time that it’s happened. In the 1990s Mike Hill and Tom Worby lost their lives when they were run over by vehicles belonging to hunts in Cheshire and Cambridgeshire. The cases against their attackers never came to trial. Another man, Steve Christmas, was airlifted to hospital and had to spend several weeks in intensive care after he was left with a crushed pelvis, broken ribs, and serious abdominal injuries. He had to have part of his bowel removed too. A court decided not to award compensation – a decision that was overturned on appeal. A case against the driver was discontinued, despite him having a lengthy record of violent crimes.
In recent months there has been a renewed spate of brutal assaults by hunt thugs that have resulted in serious injuries – and where the response from the authorities has been inadequate at best, and at worst either absent altogether or where the victims have been subjected to police harassment.
They include the case of a former director of a hunt who was found guilty of hitting a saboteur with his riding crop, leaving her with head injuries. Despite failing to attend police bail and not turning up to court, he was given a 3 month curfew and told to pay his victim just £100 in compensation.
When a huntsman launched an unprovoked attack on a saboteur in Kent in 2013, police failed to take action – despite the fact that the victim had called 999. Following complaints, the police reviewed the video evidence they’d been given. The huntsman had a previous conviction for assault, but was left off with a warning.
In 2014, hunt supporters in West Yorkshire attacked a vehicle with baseball bats, dragged the occupants from their vehicle, and punched and kicked them repeatedly. They were given 60-120 hours community service.
In 2015, hunt supporters attacked saboteurs with knives leaving 2 with serious stab wounds to their hands.
Anti-hunt campaigners have been hit on the head with a pistol, had tyres slashed, cars rammed and set on fire, and windscreens smashed with spades.
Hunters have attacked campaigners with baseball bats in their own home, and broke the leg of one protestor by pinning him down, and smashing his leg with a large boulder. When a campaigner was left with broken ribs and a collapsed lung following an assault by hunt supporters, hunt supporters blocked the road preventing an ambulance from reaching her. No charges were brought against him by the CPS.
12 Members of the Cotswold hunt viciously attacked a 60 year old pensioner after she complained about a hunt trespassing on her land, leaving the woman with serious injuries.
Anti-hunt campaigners following a hunt near Huddersfield were in a van when a number of 4 wheel drive vehicles drove towards them at speed, blocking their vehicle. 2 men wearing masks and carrying hammers jumped out and smashed their windscreen and both rear windows, and slashed a tyre before racing away. Police turned up shortly afterwards – because they had been called by the hunt to say there were hunt saboteurs in the area. They proceeded to detain the people in the van – and refused to investigate or take any action against their assailants.
At the end of last year, video evidence was given to police showing illegal hunting taking place in Kent. The footage showed that no scent trail had been laid, and captured the moment the fox was killed. The person who filmed it had their car keys stolen. Kent police decided not to take any action.
Earlier this year a hunt protestor was left critically injured after being attacked and ridden down by hunters in Devon. He was left with a hoof print on his skull.
Monitors for the League Against Cruel Sports – for whom Darryl Cunnington and Roger Swaine were working when they were attacked – have found tracking devices on their cars, have had their phones hacked, and post-cards with their names and faces have been distributed to hunts around the country.
Some hunts have been known to bring in up to 30 or 40 thugs, often wearing balaclavas, leaving police and ambulance crews to express fears about their own safety when they’ve been called to attend.
It seems, then, that if the soft sentences doled out to the men convicted of attacking Darryl Cunnington and Roger Swaine were shocking, they are perhaps not surprising. Yet this does not make it any less serious. It could be argued that charges of attempted murder could – and should – have been brought against the Grants.
And it is also worth asking what would have happened had the tables been turned – and if hunt monitors or saboteurs had broken the neck of a hunter? What would have been the charges brought then, and the sentences passed down? What would have been the media’s reaction and the political outcry?
One question the authorities don’t seem to have addressed is: what is it that hunts are going to such extreme lengths to try to hide? Why are they prepared to inflict such violence – and even risk prosecution – if, as many claim, they are hunting within the law? What do they not want members of the public to see or to record on film? Surely if they had nothing to hide, and are so keen to profess their legal credentials, they should be welcoming observers – not setting violent thugs on them.
If the lack of action against the perpetrators of unprovoked violence is shocking, then the lack of enforcement of the law on hunting may be said to be little more than scandalous. Figures show large and unexplained disparities in the number of prosecutions in different parts of the country. Whilst some police forces have brought cases, others have not in all the years since the Hunting Act came into force in 2005 – including Devon and Cornwall, home of several active hunts. The police force there has been forced to apologise on more than one occasion for its failure to act after strong evidence had been submitted to it.
Often police forces say that their role on the few occasions when they do police hunts is to be neutral and take both sides views’ into account. But the role of the police is not to be some kind of arbiter – this isn’t a football match. Hunts are hunting, and they are breaking the law with impunity. They are making a mockery of the law, and are laughing at the justice system because they believe they are above the law. Hunting foxes or other mammals is banned – so when hunts go out as a group to hunt, this is organised crime. It is a conspiracy to commit crime, and should be treated as such.
And it’s a serious crime, and one which society strongly believes should be considered as such. Studies have repeatedly shown a link between acts of cruelty to animals and other forms of serious and violent crime, including domestic violence, rape and even murder. 85% of people in Britain believe it is right that hunting animals for sport should be banned. There are few issues in the country today where there is such strong support or clear consensus.
Hunt monitors and saboteurs are sometimes lumped together with ‘extremists’ who pose a threat to national security. They find themselves arrested and harassed on the word of hunters. One force sought to get a restraining order against a hunt saboteur to stop them going near members of a hunt – the force subsequently had to back down in embarrassing fashion. It has been reported that there are some Police officers who are members of hunts and who take part in hunting activities.
Hunters complain that their opponents commit acts of trespass – but this is a strange defence for violent behaviour, not least as it is something that hunters often do themselves. There are regular documented cases of hunts trespassing onto private property, and of hounds worrying sheep. In some cases, ewes have been known to abort their lambs as a result.
Courts in the UK have on more than one occasion accepted the defence used by arms trade campaigners who have damaged warplanes that, whatever crime they may have committed was justified – as it prevented a more serious crime from taking place. Trespassing to ensure a mammal is not cruelly and illegally ripped to pieces by a pack of hounds may pass the same legal test.
Unusually, and unlike other wildlife protection and animal cruelty laws, the Hunting Act makes no provision for custodial sentences. The Animal Welfare Act, the Protection of Badgers Act, and the Wildlife and Countryside Act all carry penalties that include jail sentences. Not the Hunting Act though.
And the law comes with some ridiculous exemptions. For example, hunters who chase and kill a stag can say they were doing it lawfully – because they were conducting research. This is exactly the same excuse used by Japanese whalers who have sought to skirt around a global ban on whaling. Despite having used this excuse ever since the Hunting Act came into being in 2005, there has yet to be a peer-reviewed paper published in any reputable scientific journal which has drawn on such research.
There is no doubt that the Hunting Act needs to be strengthened and its loopholes eliminated. For now, though, the law needs to be enforced. The police need to learn and apply the law as it stands – rather than be unduly influenced into applying public order provisions spuriously and on the say-so of huntmasters. The Hunting Act is not going to be repealed – Theresa May has made that abundantly clear. Therefore hunts have no excuse – the argument that they are trail hunting in order to be ready for when the law is reversed no longer holds water, if it ever did. To have designated terrier-men is an open challenge to the law – and a challenge the authorities should accept. Police forces can no longer act as if the offence has been de facto decriminalised because of the possibility of repeal. The law is here to stay – and is therefore there to be enforced.
And politicians should start thinking about the ways in which they can crack down on hunting now which do not require major changes to the law. At the end of each hunting season, hunts kill off thousands of their hounds. The dogs will usually be in perfect health and with many years still left in them. Because they are no longer of use to the hunts, though, they are shot and often incinerated. Although there is dispute as to how many thousands die in this way every year, the bloodsports lobby does not deny that it is several thousand. What is perhaps most surprising is that it is perfectly legal. There is no requirement for the animal to be deemed irretrievably sick or suffering. In fact there is no requirement for any veterinary involvement at all. The animals are killed and disposed of in the hunts’ own kennels. Surely this is one area where the law can be changed virtually overnight – sparing thousands of dogs each year a cruel and unnecessary death.
It won’t be long now before the hunting season kicks off again. And it will start with the obscene practice of fox cub hunting. It is a practice which aims to teach new hunting dogs to chase and kill foxes. Some hunts have been known to take young cubs from the wild and keep them for use in this activity. Unless the law is properly enforced, as many as 10,000 fox cubs could be illegally and cruelly killed by hunters this year.
If politicians, the police and prosecutors are unwilling to act decisively to protect people from hunters, then perhaps the plight of thousands of fox cubs and innocent dogs may provide them with the motivation they need. Let’s hope they do so before someone is killed. Again.
THE CLIMATE CHALLENGE – 18/06/18
In the past few days, there have been fresh calls for tough action to tackle climate threats from some unexpected corners.
Lloyds of London, the global insurance giants, warned that the world’s largest cities face an estimated annual average loss of $123 billion as a result of climate-related extreme weather- and that the figure could grow even further.
In the run-up to the recent G7 summit, a number of major investment firms with assets totalling $26 trillion urged world leaders to step up their fight against climate change – including by phasing out coal, and eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels.
The Pope addressed a group of senior oil executives at the Vatican from companies including Exxon, BP and Shell, telling them that they needed to wind down their use of fossil fuels – and focus on clean energy sources instead.
The fresh calls for politicians to act follow the publication of new studies indicating that global food supplies – and the nutritional quality of food – could be seriously affected by an increase in global temperatures.
They show that climate change is already reducing yields and stripping nutrients from vegetables, raising serious questions over the future of food security and public health around the world.
And By the end of this century, as much as half of the world’s landmass could be covered by drylands, which is expected to lead to an increase in airborne pollution levels and premature deaths. Premature deaths from asthma, lung disease, fibrosis and lung cancer could go up by as much as 130 percent by the year 2100 as a result of inhaling silica, soil-borne pathogens and other toxic contaminants.
Around the world, hurricanes are getting slower, researchers have said – and as a result, they’re getting stronger and wetter.
Plus there were renewed fears this week that diseases including malaria and meningitis are also spreading more quickly because of increasing temperatures, as mosquitoes that transmit malaria are growing faster.
Drought and higher temperatures have been blamed for the mysterious and sudden deaths of baobab trees, Africa’s so-called tree of life. Here in Britain, Climate change was said to be one of the drivers of what is some have called an ecological apocalypse, with as many as 1 in 5 species now facing extinction.
And there is new evidence there could be other, unexpected consequences from climate change.
In Alaska, for example, Mercury is being released from thawing soils and is poisoning rivers. The mercury, a product of industrial pollution, was deposited in permafrost – but as global temperatures rise, more of the permafrost is thawing, and the mercury is being carried out to sea where it has now been found in beluga whales, polar bears, seals, fish, and eagles
Camp Century, “the so-called city under the ice”, was a US research station and strategic outpost in Greenland during the Cold War. The camp was powered by the world’s first mobile nuclear generator. It was abandoned in 1967, together with unknown amounts of radioactive waste. (It was believed that snow and ice would cover the entire site and bury all the toxic waste. However) rising sea levels are now starting to flood the site which is causing widespread radioactive contamination – including plutonium-239, one of the most toxic substances on Earth.
New scenarios of what the future may holds have also been released in recent days. They say that, by 2050, there could be as many as 200 million climate refugees in the world, creating what was described as a humanitarian crisis of potentially biblical proportions.
There was though some positive news, as India’s target to install 175 gigawatts of renewable power capacity by 2022 – widely viewed as ambitious – could be met ahead of target, and even exceeded.
It was also reported that Scotland has met its annual climate change target for the third consecutive year – with Greenhouse gas emissions falling by 49 per cent from 1990 to 2016.
In Sweden, meanwhile, IKEA unveiled a sustainability strategy which it said would not only make the companies products 100 per cent “circular” by making them entirely out of recycled materials, but also “climate positive”. And a Swedish burger chain is now offering ‘the world’s first climate positive menu’.
And it was announced that another $1 billion was being invested in new renewable energy projects in Africa.
But elsewhere the picture was less rosy, with Governments and the energy sector being accused of being too slow to respond to the growing challenge. The EU – long a lead in climate policy – was told it needed to up its climate ambition. New climate policies announced by Australia, Ireland and New Zealand were panned by green groups. And the G7 declaration on climate – which Donald Trump refused to sign – was attacked by Greenpeace for being tepid. Embarrassingly, a study was published which revealed that the G7 nations had spent at least $100 billion a year to support fossil fuels at home and abroad in 2015 and 2016, propping up oil, gas and coal consumption – despite vows to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.
There are now growing fears of catastrophic changes to the planet – even if the Paris Accord’s emission targets are met.
It has been claimed that the climate challenge could represent an evolutionary tipping point for humanity.
Researchers studying the impact of extreme climate conditions on biodiversity have found what they say is a “tipping point” at which species under pressure from dwindling food supplies due to climate change, had to either evolve to take advantage of different food supplies, or face extinction. The fear is that humanity now faces the same dilemma.
Politicians, though, remain reluctant to embrace radical measures to immediately and dramatically cut CO2 emissions – perhaps because of the drastic changes they could mean to modern lifestyles and the economy. But with Carbon capture and storage technology still not being a viable option, there appear to be few alternative options.
In Britain, a group of citizens calling themselves ‘Plan B Earth’ have announced they are going to sue the British Government over what they say is its poor response to climate change. It’s the latest in a string of bids around the world to hold governments and oil companies accountable for the damage which, it’s alleged, some knew about as far back as the late 1960s but – rather like tobacco industry research into the harm caused by smoking cigarettes – they chose to keep quiet.
Whether they succeed remains to be seen. One thing however is for sure. Tackling climate will mean making major decisions about the way we live, work and play. And failing to tackle climate will mean even greater changes being forced upon us. The choice is ours.