14 Nov 2005

Climate Change

“Not enough is being done to tackle climate change.”

This morning, it’s the World Wildlife Fund that is having a pop at Tony Blair: WWF are an active environmental lobbying group. It’s always struck me as a little strange that they should be so active in this arena but what the heck.

But what can Tony Blair, or for that matter any other democratic politician, actually do? Very little. They can encourage and cajole, they can subsidise various renewable energy and energy saving initiatives, but what they really need to do is to make us all wear a hair shirt. Like a swingeing tax on air fuel, big petrol-pump size carbon taxes on domestic fuel supplies, masses of road charges. But this stuff is way off the democratic agenda: if any politician tried to force these measures through, they’d be out on their ear.

What the climate change lobby desperately needs is a disaster, and one that can be unequivocally linked to global warming. This year we’ve had a tsunami and a huge earthquake, neither of which has anything to do with climate change. We’ve had a few nasty hurricanes coming out of the Caribbean, which may have been caused by the oceans getting warmer. But then again, they may not: no one can be sure. Melting glaciers? Tough on the skiers but really who cares! There has been nothing to knock us out of our complacency. We like life the way it is, we don’t want to give up our cars, our central heating, our holidays in the sun and our supermarkets stuffed full of exotica from all around the world.

For us to start thinking like that would take a major event of gob-smackingly awful proportions. And for us to be 100% sure that it was climate change that was responsible. Rising sea levels: where are you? Come and inundate Holland or submerge the Seychelles. Gulf Stream to vanish and give the UK continental winters? Come on then, wreak your worst.

Until such events occur, we will be left arguing about the textual changes in the next set of building regs. Should air tightness testing be compulsory, or can there be some sort of trade-off? And should the new U value for walls be 0.3 or 0.27? And how exactly should these U values be calculated? Do we really think this is going to stop global warming? I don’t think so.

Whilst it’s easy to make fun of the Emperor Nero fiddling whilst Rome burnt, the fact that his fire brigade couldn’t be arsed to get out of bed did rather limit his options. WWF aiming blows at Blair is going for the soft target: they need to get real and point out who the real culprits are. You and me. Or maybe they should just be patient and wait for the coming cataclysm.


  1. Dear Mark,
    Bless you.
    Several members of the convent here are great fans of yours. Sister Sheila was so taken with the book that she stole several copies from a remainder bookshop in Bury St Edmunds. Of course, we were all outraged at her low moral standards and made her return it after we had photocopied it.

    I'd like to congratulate you on your stand on Climate Change, and I might add that I am taking a stand on this as we decide on our new transportation arrangements. We are insisting on CFC-free air-conditioning for our new Lincoln Navigator or Range Rover (yet to decide).

    Now, Mark. You are clearly someone who knows a bit about dodgy builders, and we were wondering whether you can recommend any.
    I.M. Pei has agreed to design the apple packing shed in our orchard (the upper one) and we need someone cheap to do the work. I should add that we are not currently based in the UK, due to a slight disagreement with HM Tax Inspectorate over our hedge-trading activities, but are now in the process of relocating to a developing country which has no withholding tax on the statute book.

    We are looking for a builder who is cheap, but can do the work quickly and to Mr Pei's specifications. Our local congregation has offered to build it free and that it would be a great honour for them (yawn!) but quite frankly they are an idle bunch and are mainly used to using mud bricks.

    The question is: can you point us in the right direction?

    Bless you for your advice,

    Sister Agnes

  2. Well, from the past few winters I have experiences there ain't no global warming taking place where I am.

    Chekkout the UltimateWriter.com Blog @ http://ultimatewriter.blogspot.com

  3. Actually, in Alaska there is great evidence of climate change: the permafrost is melting which has led to 'drunken forest effect' where trees have sunk and point in all directions. Also, many roads and buildings are buckling and collapsing upon themselves, and countless sink holes have been appearing for a few years now. The permafrost layer is a frozen zone below ground level, and as it melts it gives way and everything above begins shifting and sinking because there is no solid footing.

    What am I doing? Well, I don't live in Alaska, but I've converted my gasoline vehicle to run on propane which has nearly zero emissions. Also, I'm working on building homes with sand bags: Nadir Kahlili, an architect from California, USA, has been showing how economical and stable buildings are that are made from sand or earth bags. They resist earthquakes, and they are cheaper to build than tents. They can be made to virtually any size, and they have a lot of thermal mass, which is a different heat energy concept than insulation, and its a better one in a lot of ways, too. Thermal mass rich structures, with insulation on their exteriors, require little heating and cooling because they stay near the temperature of the earth they are built upon: perhaps 50 degrees farenheit. There's more to it than that, but I'd just like to point out that global warming is decimating the Alaskan economy and wilderness, and that insulation value isn't the only thing to consider when it comes to building an eco friendly home.