Blog Babble: Joining Climate Dots

Wind Farm, California

From Caspar Henderson’s always-inspiring blog, and interesting post on climate change policies. I reproduce it here for your perusal:

In the summer Martin Rees called for a radical increase in spending energy R&D to tackle climate change. (1)

On 25 Sep it was reported that the Earth may be close to the warmest it has been in the last million years. (2)

On 26 Sep Tony Blair (keep a straight face, now) called for radical overhaul of energy policy. (3)

And if the political will really was there where would the money come from?On 26 Sep Tom Burke made this modest proposal on openDemocracy:

“Europe currently spends 46% of its annual budget on a problem it has already solved: food security. It spends practically nothing on a problem that threatens the livelihoods and wellbeing of every single citizen in the union: climate security. It is time to look to the future rather than remain trapped in the past. That means a radical reallocation of European funds from the common agricultural policy into a climate security fund.” (4)

I’m not saying this is the only idea in town or even the best, but it is one for discussion in search for justice that balances liberty and security.Western NGOs concerned with international development and justice could strengthen their case against agricultural subsidies in rich [European] countries, recommending reallocation to both energy R&D (and some the “good” bits of the Lisbon Agenda) and agricultural and use adaptation in Europe and its “near abroad”.

Maybe our Chinese friends can help somehow. (5)

Meanwhile, in another part of the wood, Nature reports that the Bush administration has blocked release of a report that suggests global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of hurricanes. (6)


1. Science 313, 571 (2006)


2 responses to “Blog Babble: Joining Climate Dots

  1. I hesitated before leaving another reply since blogs should be about more than just two people having a dialogue, but this post was irresistible. I love Tom Burke’s idea of translating climate change into a security issue – it’s an idea we’ve also been discussing at the RSA. I read a while back the US only finally developed a country-wide network of highways — after years of proposals being rejected by Congress — when they were presented as being an essential strategic defence initiative that would enable the rapid deployment of cruise missiles. Money suddenly became no object.

    I would go a little further, in a European context, and argue that the CAP is not so much about food security as it is about a rural social policy: it is designed to subsidise economically inefficient rural activities because we like the side-effects (pretty countryside, “local” food, rural villages which can still function, and so on). In the UK, the primary economic purpose of the countryside is to provide transport arteries between cities. The farming that goes on there is, mostly, hopelessly uneconomic and, like pretty much all uneconomic industries, we’d be better off if we ended the state subsidies. I would be less harsh if I believed that what went on in the countryside had other benefits for us such as encouraging biodiversity. But, in the UK’s mostly industrial farming, what happens there is pretty toxic, from nitrate run-off in arable areas to microsporidia contamination of water by livestock. There is far more biodiversity on an average city-centre brown-field site than in a farmed field. CAP would be better targetted at the desired end result (biodiversity in the countryside? Stimulation of organic farming?), even though it has recently been everso slightly “reformed”.

    Is that the optimum route for tackling climate change? I’m not sure, given the scale of the issue, that it would be enough. But like many big problems, the difficult is knowing where to start. And starting anywhere is better than starting nowhere.

    Incidentally, you might like this stuff by a UK children’s tv creator:

    His “The Clangers” is a haunting memory from my own childhood…

  2. An interesting article from Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, on the CAP, posted on Margot Wammstrom’s blog.

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