John Ashton’s Full Speech in Copenhagen

A couple of short thoughts before I get on my bike on Saturday and start pedalling (with a bit of interim help from CrossCountry Trains) from Hexham to Inverness, for a week at the Findhorn Foundation contemplating the current spring awakening. (I may well blog along the way – keeps the mind safely occupied over those cool evening end-of-slog beers…)

First, as mentioned lower down in this blog, John Ashton, senior adviser on climate change to Foreign Secretary David Miliband, has written what’s in my view one of the most powerful current messages on the urgency of a radical political awakening on the environment, and on the importance of science stating its message much more clearly. On Surviving the Collision. It’s short, cogent, and WELL worth reading in full.


Second, I don’t know if you noticed, but in today’s Guardian, a report on Lord Stern’s warnings against building a new coal generating station at Kingsnorth makes an interesting choice of information sequence.

At the top, the lead is on how the government should, in Lord Stern’s view, halt the Kingsnorth planning process until carbon capture technology is sorted out. Fair enough. Read on, and the details unfold, until you reach the very final paragraph of this news report, quoting Stern as calling for carbon emissions to be reduced as soon and as fast as possible, since we should in his words otherwise expect a 5 degree rise in temperatures above pre-industrial levels.

“We haven’t seen temperatures like that for 30 million years,” Lord Stern continues. “We’ve got to understand the magnitude of the risks we face. It will transform where we live. Some places will be deserts, others will be racked by storms. It will involve the likely movement of hundreds of millions, possibly billions of people, and extended conflict.”

Billions of refugees. Extended conflict. And that’s the last paragraph.

Organic vegetable gardens at the White House and switching lights off for an hour in the world’s cities as a gesture of concern are all, in their way, worthwhile contributions to giving people the sense that they’re Doing Something.

But unless such actions coupled with a serious and sober realisation, and blunt discussion/reporting in the mainstream media, of the reality of what is overwhelmingly likely to happen (namely, billions dying this century, not just becoming refuges), I’m not sure I see uncoupled gestures are going to help all that much.

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