An update post here (finally!) This one I simply had to comment on and recommend to you. Max Hastings (one of my favorite journalists on the right) was writing in the Daily Mail yesterday. (The same paper that has been known to run ‘climate-change denying’ articles like the good old Express.) Except Max, ever the great pragmatist, is obviously someone who can see the wood for the trees!
In the UK, we are experiencing some unseasonably hot weather (although, to be fair, I have known it to be warm occasionally in March.) However, the big problem we are facing, after an extremely dry winter, is drought. This is because there hasn’t been enough rainfall to fill up the aquifers. Of course, we are still using water like there is no tomorrow (including yours truly – time to turn the tap off when cleaning my teeth!!) So, from next week, there’ll be hose pipe bans coming into force. Its like 1976 all over again, but more protracted. (Yes! I am old enough to remember it, though!!)
Max points out that our drought problem is ‘a combination of climate change, extravagant water use and poor economy.’ This is something already replicated in many places across the world. Our water usage is massive – check out his article for the figures he quotes. Agriculture is one of the most serious – 11,000 litres of water to produce enough meat for a hamburger? Phew! This is just not sustainable. But, as he says, the years of plenty now seem to be over.
He also questions the wisdom of the UK Government’s plans to relax the planning laws so that more development can take place. I have been worried about that one myself. How much more countryside can we consume? However, it also hadn’t occurred to me about the need for all these additional homes and business premises to be supplied with water until Max covered this in his article. If this type of problem continues (as it might, given climate change), where is the additional water required going to come from?
The present government does seems to be a little, shall we say, rash sometimes. Take the comments today from ministers telling people not to panic buy fuel ahead of a possible drivers’ strike – but perhaps top up your tanks anyway! What happens as a result? People start panic buying! Oops!
Of course, to my mind this issue – set against the backdrop of rising anxiety over rising oil and fuel prices – seems to be more a symptom of the peak oil problem which has been seen to be coming for some while. Consider this, for instance. At the time of the fuel protests in 2000, unleaded petrol was 80p a litre. Now its £1.43p on average. That is, in itself, staggering, bearing in mind that prices have been high for a while anyway.
Max is quite right, the Age of Abundance has gone. We need to start conserving and getting our technological thinking caps on as to how we solve this problem – because, personally speaking, I don’t think climate change and peak oil are going to go away. (Also, note to Mr Cameron and colleagues – can we have some sensible policies please?)