I’m usually two or three weeks behind in reading my Guardian Weekly – this doesn’t bother me all that month as I reckon that if it was worth reading three weeks ago, it’s still worth reading now (and the reverse of course). It was Autumn by the time I came across Andrew Simms’ article about the “100 months” movement so by then of course we were down to 98 months or so. That’s the time by which the game will be up unless our politicians start taking the dangers of climate change seriously. The first line of the report, which you can download from the 100 months website, says:
We calculate that 100 months from 1 August 2008, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will begin to exceed a point whereby it is no longer likely we will be able to avert potentially irreversible climate change.
That’s One Hundred Months, not years. About 8 years from now the process will get out of control, and the planet will cook, whatever we do. Unless, that is, all the countries of the world really get to work on this and drastically cut our CO2 output. Not sometime in 2050, but right now. The possible, or likely, horrific consequences of letting this slip have been well described elsewhere, but we can look forward to things like destructive storms, flooded cities, plagues of tropical diseases, destruction of productive cropland, millions of hungry refugees, wars over water, mass starvation, a drastic reduction in the human population the world is able to support, the end of civilization as we know it, or even our extinction…
I don’t know about you, but I find this all somewhat depressing. Some world leaders seem to have started to get the picture, but what chance is there of getting the whole world on board in time? It’s hard to be optimistic. Of course the current economic depression might turn out to have a silver lining if it has the same effects that the collapse of the Soviet Union did on Russia’s emissions in the 90’s. Meanwhile here in Japan wind power has hardly taken off at all because this relatively small country doesn’t have a proper national grid system for distributing electricity from where it’s produced to where it’s consumed. Among the government’s pitiful collection of economic stimuli so far was making the highway tolls a (cheap) 1000 yen to drive anywhere in the country at weekends. Starting last weekend, we got an increase in traffic of 30~40%. Great stuff. (The opposition would like to go even further and make the highways free! )
They just don’t get it.