Which side of the fence do I fall?
This week’s lectures were based on defining the numerous viewpoints on climate change. I got a great understanding of the environmental movement and the history of its foundation.
The main concept was the effect industrialisation had on the requirement for environmental movements to be established. Since the advent of the industrial revolution there has been a major effect on the environment, caused by increases in CO2 emissions and intensification of farming practices. There was great pressure to produce more for a growing population. We can see how this affected our planet, the effects of burning coal was immediately visible due to the great smog which loomed over a highly populated London. The change from a rural lifestyle to the urban lifestyle which was brought about by industrialisation led to a dissociation with nature. Environmental movements have been established to tackle the growing problems such as air pollution and deforestation.
“A concern for environmental protection has recurred in diverse forms, in different parts of the world, throughout history. For example, in the Middle East, the earliest known writings concerned with environmental pollution were Arabic medical treatises written during the “Arab Agricultural Revolution”. They were concerned with air contamination, water contamination, soil contamination, solid waste mishandling, and environmental assessments of certain localities.
In Europe, King Edward I of England banned the burning of sea-coal by proclamation in London in 1272, after its smoke had become a problem. The fuel was so common in England that this earliest of names for it was acquired because it could be carted away from some shores by the wheelbarrow. Air pollution would continue to be a problem in England, especially later during the Industrial Revolution, and extending into the recent past with the Great Smog of 1952.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmentalism)
The industrial revolution was brought about by a huge improvement in technology with the invention of the steam engine which facilitated a faster supply of cheap energy which powered the factories, transport systems, electric supply. This energy and natural resource was exploited and used excessively, without real understanding of the impacts burning fossil fuel had on the planet. They didn’t have the knowledge about the environmental impact they were causing which is now readily available. This new understanding is due to the huge amount of research which has been carried out in the past century by environmental scientist. Yet even today we are still not making the required changes to tackle the problems caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which I believe to be the cause of climate change.
We can see how extreme weather events have become more common yet our greed an unwillingness to change our reliance on fossil leaves this planet on a road to destruction. We must assert pressure on our governments to act more decisively to tackle this problem before it’s too late. I feel there is an immediate need for a massive switch to a cleaner, safer and more sustainable lifestyle which will preserve our planet for future generations. The problems of food shortage, peak oil, water supply and climate change have been growing rapidly over the last 2 centuries and will continue to do so as our population continues to soar. As we approach a global population of 7 billion we must evaluate our impact and responsibility to use our current wealth of knowledge to tackle the climate change problem. If we work together, in a balanced and effective manner, I believe we can overcome this problem.
So there are many ways in which we can tackle this global problem of climate change. Whether we follow the views of deep ecologist or to the other extreme the free market system a solution must be found. I personally follow the sustainable development viewpoint. I think an even emphasis should be placed on economic, social and environmental development. This balanced approach would create an incentive for people to live more sustainably yet minimise the impact on their standard of living. The deep ecologists plan to withdraw from the international market system, which provides vital produce which can’t be produced in certain regions, is unsustainable if we are to improve our standard of living. I don’t believe that the self-reliant communities, proposed by the deep ecologists, could support themselves in the long-term. They would be very vulnerable to extreme weather events which could have catastrophic impacts on food production, energy supply and transportation systems. The free market system is not doing enough to tackle the problem of climate change. This is for a number of reasons the main reason being greed. For the last two centuries the free market has help us in the western world to develop at the cost of poorer countries. Natural resources, such as coal and oil, have been exploited so excessively that they are now running out with the effect of rising oil prices and increased political turmoil, such as has been seen in the past few weeks in the Middle East. The disregard of the environment by the free market system has undoubtedly contributed to climate change.
The unconvincing attempts by world leaders to tackle the problem of climate change is greatly lacking in magnitude and conviction if we are truly serious about addressing the causes of climate change. There is still no clear and decisive plan to come out of these talks between leaders of the developed and developed countries. Both sides are reluctant in giving any compromises which may have a negative effect economically and socially. These failed conferences inspire little confidence that we will overcome the looming problems associated with climate change. A system of capping CO2 emissions and trading carbon credits seem to be favourable by both sides but we must question whether this will be enough. (the video below is worth watching)