Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Climate Change March in London - December 8th

Climate Change Demonstrations took place all around the world today. Dave T and I joined the 10,000 strong march in London, in the rain, to exercise our democratic right to stand up and be counted. We bumped into Peter Pope down there too.

There were all kinds of slogans and campaign groups marching to make the main point that we MUST do something about climate change. We marched alongside the photogenic Surfers Against Sewage for a while. The colourful side of the march concerns me a bit since this was also a march of ordinary people, it was not 10,000 weirdos out on a day trip. This is an issue for all of us.

The talks at the rally outside the US embassy were pretty good, especially, as ever, George Monbiot. He always has some interesting statistics and well researched statistics which are dangerous to quote casually. One such, was from the Royal Academy of Engineering's Research Chair, Rod Smith, who has calculated that over the next 23 years, our capitalist drive for continual growth, will see a doubling in the amount of the earths resources we have used. This period would see use as much resource as all those throughout the whole of human history to date. Here it is from Monbiot's blog.

In a lecture to the Royal Academy of Engineering in May, Professor Rod Smith of Imperial College explained that a growth rate of 3% means economic activity doubles in 23 years (see ref below). At 10% it takes just 7 years. This we knew. But Smith takes it further. With a series of equations he shows that “each successive doubling period consumes as much resource as all the previous doubling periods combined.” In other words, if our economy grows at 3% between now and 2030, we will consume in that period economic resources equivalent to all those we have consumed since humans first stood on two legs. Then, between 2030 and 2053, we must double our total consumption again. Reading that paper I realised for the first time what we are up against. (From Monbiot - what is progress; referenced talk - Roderick A Smith, 29th May 2007. Lecture to the Royal Academy of Engineering. Carpe Diem: The dangers of risk aversion. Reprinted in Civil Engineering Surveyor, October 2007. (link to PDF transcript - start around page 15). Further information is available frmom a lecture leaflet..

A similar analysis is made on the futurist blog along with some graphs. This may make the issue clearer.

One key strain on the planet is the size of human population. It is a difficult topic to talk about but the fact is that more people use more resources. China has put radical policies in place to do something about this - each couple is only allowed to have one child. This is clearly a difficult policy on many levels. However, they do something. Why, I wonder, does the Catholic Church, through the Pope, persist with such a massively damaging attitude towards contraception perpetuating AIDS and population explosion? There are apparently 1.3 billion catholics in the world, forbidden, by the church, from using condoms - thank goodness we can depend on the self control of 1.3 billion people or we'd really be in trouble! see this article from the Independent for some related statistics.

It is with this in mind that I view the church's contribution and calls to do something about climate change. One small sentence from the Pope could do a lot for this biosphere.

Another message from the rally attacked the UK government's minuscule and distracting efforts in the direction of climate change. We are legislating against plastic bags whilst at the same time planning to widened the M1 Motorway (freeway) and expand our biggest airport (Heathrow) in the interests of "growth". This is distraction and destruction not growth.

I'm pleased I went to London to stand with the 10,000 in the rain though I was disappointed there were not more people - just the weigh-in at the Mayweather and Hatton fight in Vegas yesterday attracted 6,0000 people! Perhaps one day we will start to take this seriously.


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