Your correspondent of October 11 is absolutely right that ‘the world will look after itself’. It is already doing so; and that is what we call global warming.
It looked after itself about 21,000 years ago when, due to the Milankovitch cycles, solar radiation reaching the Earth was less, and Britain was covered by ice.
Likewise, about 66 million years ago it looked after itself when a large object hit the Earth, and caused a massive ejection of dust into the atmosphere blocking out sunlight, and the temperatures dropped.
The dinosaurs died out, but the Earth’s eyelids remained unbatted. If, as a result of humanity’s raising the level of greenhouse gasses, our major coastal cities are inundated and a rise in high-intensity rainstorms strips our agricultural land of soil, the Earth will care not one jot.
Humankind may die out, but what’s one more extinct species in 4.5 billion years of history? Perhaps the next species to dominate the planet may be more intelligent.
But in Buxton we are unlikely to get our feet wet as sea levels rise and, because most of the farmland hereabouts is pasture protected by grass, we are unlikely to see the worst impacts of accelerated soil erosion. However, if your correspondent has trees near his house I would advise him to chop them down.
Insurance companies may not benefit from global warming but they will protect their profits by ceasing to offer storm-damage insurance as storms become more common and more severe. I also hope he has a large garden and will be able to feed himself from its produce.
Climatic extremes will lead to less certain harvests, food shortages and higher prices. I wouldn’t be too sure about the health benefits either. On the whole, bugs also like to be warm and cosy. And if your correspondent likes a holiday in the Mediterranean he’d better hope that the research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does manage to eradicate malaria.
Unlike the dinosaurs, our climate change is not caused by some cosmic disaster, but is of our own making.
Science tells us the mechanisms, and what we can do to minimise its impact. But it is up to us whether we do, or not. Many of us alive today will not live to see the worst impacts of ignoring this threat.
Therein lies the problem. We have to act now to protect not ourselves but the generations that will follow us. Altruism is not the strongest of human traits.
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