What climate change will mean to Suffolk

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6 Responses

  1. Linn Barringer says:

    Excellent article, Margaret.
    I have family who lived (lucky for them) through the 1953 floods. They lived on Canvey Island. There are many more inhabitants on Canvey now. It’s almost all, if not entirely, below current sea level. It’s not difficult to imagine that Canvey Island would just disappear with the possibility of the loss of all 37,479 human inhabitants* plus all the farm and pet animals. Even without any other near-coastal flooding, that alone would be a shockingly massive loss.
    OK, Canvey Island is not Suffolk. But what of places like Walberswick, Dunwich (where it is already affected), Felixstowe, Flx. Ferry, Bawdsey Quay, RSPB Minsmere, Snape Maltings, any riverside town or village, Sizewell…

    *Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canvey_Island

  2. David Mitchell says:

    Thanks for the timely post Margaret and for the great links. Seeing Limbaugh and other right wing demagogues foaming at the mouth makes it easier to remember that only a few generations separate our so called rational world of 2009 from the days of medieval magic and witch burning.

    Thanks also for not once using the phrase, Saving the Planet, because that’s not what it’s about. Barring a collision with a very large extra terrestrial object the planet will be here until the sun becomes a red giant in its death throes and absorbs the inner planets. What is at stake is keeping large enough areas of the planet habitable by man and as many living species as we can.

    I always try to look on the bright side of life and to wear a smile rather than a frown. When I was a banker a director of the bank in which I worked berated a large gathering of my peers and betters because so many of them looked so miserable all the time, using me as the archetypal smiler that they should attempt to emulate. It was the finest moment in a career that I had much to be modest about.

    Sadly, for all my general optimism, I haven’t detected much to be optimistic about in the goings on in Copenhagen. I’m a great enthusiast for all things Scandinavian and the heavy handed treatment of peaceful protesters and of the conference organisers towards the poorer countries has been a shock. Most disappointing though is the feeling that the vast majority of delegates just don’t get it. It’s just another city, another self important jamboree, another junket in a very privileged world insulated from reality. Whatever fudge is agreed upon it’s probably going to be too little too late. A good example of the practical problems we face is the experience of the writer George Monbiot. He travelled to Copenhagen by train. The journey cost £1400, half from his own pocket, half from the paper he was reporting for. He could have made the same trip, by air, for £18.

    I turned the TV news on at breakfast time today to be confronted by a beaming Gordon Brown telling me that the answer lay in a private commercial market in carbon emissions. One assumes that he means the market that already exists and via which multi national companies have pocketed billions of pounds while carbon emissions continue their inexorable rise. Poor Gordon is still mesmerised by markets despite their pivotal role in his current predicament and likely landslide defeat in next year’s General Election. Let’s hope he’ll have plenty of time on his hands to receive remedial treatment for his irrational obsession. I wish I could say that any likely replacement Prime Minister is going to make an iota of difference but there’s little evidence of it so far.

    Finally, Tony Robinson is fronting a series on Channel 4 at the moment about how our ancient ancestors coped with climate change, in particular the end of the last Ice Age.
    The chirpy chappy showed us last night how easy it was for the Turkish farmers driven out by the formation of the Black Sea to hop round the corner and start again in Croatia and for the Saharan’s to move from the desertification of their previously fertile land to the banks of the Nile where they begat the great Egyptian civilisation. It all sounds so simple until you do some equally simple maths. Nine thousand years ago the earth’s population was tiny, perhaps less than a million. When the Turks arrived in Croatia and the Saharans on the banks of the Nile they effectively had the place to themselves.

    With seven billion of us around today there aren’t any habitable open spaces left. I hope I’m wrong but I believe the major problem the world faces through climate change is from the mass movement of possibly billions of climate refugees. I’m afraid we’re going to need a bit of lateral thinking because Yarlswood Detention Centre would have expand to fill the whole country if current thinking were to prevail

    • Linn Barringer says:

      Your last two points, David, are very likely to be closer to the real outcome than we would hope for.

      And it occurs to me that the size and growth of global population (encouraged in some quarters by “god’s” wish for us all to procreate until death do us part) is probably as much, if not more, to blame for the pollution, deforestation, etc. and consequential frizzling of the planet than all the internal combustion engines in cars, trucks, planes, ships (huge fuel guzzlers) put together.

      I am NOT suggesting that those things aren’t the cause, but that it is the huge population growth that has “required” growth of all those things.
      Capitalism requires growth and, it seems, requires growth over and above natural population growth.
      Many of us will be aware of the phrase “nature abhors a vacuum” but I believe that nature also abhors imbalance and has ways of dealing with it – think of the fox/rabbit population balance.

      Is it not possible, or perhaps likely, that nature will restore “the balance” of the planet by removing a very large proportion of the population, one way or another?

  3. David Mitchell says:

    My apologies to readers and to George Monbiot. I’ve just re-read his article about travelling by train to Copenhagen. His ticket cost £480, not £1400 as quoted by me in my previous post. Still rather more than the £18 he could have paid for a plane ticket and still good evidence that we have a long way to go to make high speed trains attractive enough to encourage people away from budget airlines.

  4. Margaret says:

    When we had 10-minute topics earlier this year and the subject of climate change came up, I was concerned that at least two of our members didn’t seem to think there’s a problem. I think that we might have a meeting on the subject early next year, with an explanation of what “carbon trading” means, amongst other things. Watch this space.

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