Sunday 21st December
Do you remember a few years ago when the environment was at the top of the Agenda. It seemed the biggest problem facing the World, dwarfing all other petty squabbles. Even David Cameron was filmed in the Arctic with some huskies, as he portrayed himself as the greenest politician around. Where did it go, all this enthusiasm to change the way we ran the World? I can remember the excitement about electric cars – where did they go? You do see the occasional Toyota Prius dual-fuel around but it is hardly a revolution. I even recall an article about a French company who were designing a car to run on nothing but compressed air – no idea where that one has gone. And then there was the fight-back by the skeptics, backed I am sure by the big Petro-Chemical Industries who have persistently rubbished the scientific arguments, declaring that the changes in Global Temperatures were not necessarily man-made and were nothing compared to what the Earth had been through many times before. And even today I read a report that glaciers in the Antartic were moving to the sea far faster than ever, despite increased annual snowfall and that this would inevitably lead to increased sea-levels. So what are we to believe?
I for one am fairly certain that the scientific evidence is pretty overwhelming. The Environment is being changed through the actions of mankind and year on year temperatures are rising and this must be damaging in so many ways. A few years ago I saw a man on Newsnight who was arguing for alternative energy development and Paxman asked him why, if there was still an abundance of oil, should the world look for alternatives. The guest replied “Look, the stone-age didn’t end because of a shortage of stone – a better technology came along.” So what does the recent fall in oil prices mean for the Environment. On the surface one would think that it would scupper plans for alternatives but I am not so sure. If this momentary fall in the price, created by an over-supply becomes entrenched then the immediate effect means that new fracking development becomes uneconomic, so that particular nonsense may be slowed down if not halted. More long term it may mean that new Oil Exploration itself becomes uneconomic so the Arctic may be spared. It may also actually spur on the development of cheaper alternatives. Sometimes things which seem bad have a habit of heralding in the good.