Back in the 1970’s as a young insurance broker involved with insuring oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, the insurance underwriters were already saying that there would be more hurricanes and of greater ferocity too. ‘Climate change’ or ‘global warming’ were not terms that had been coined at that time. Those underwriters have been proved right many times over.
For the deniers of changing weather, although they might not believe it, claiming it is a natural cycle, there is one thing for absolute certain and that is the world population has doubled since that period. Man is the producer of man made carbons.
Further evidence is easy to see when graphs of carbons have tracked very closely natural cycles, including volcanoes, up until the 1970’s. From then to today the amount of carbon has literally jumped, closely in line with global population growth.
So with 99% of scientists in agreement that climate change is real, what are some of the important global events that have spun out of these changing weather patterns and where as a result the world now faces greater uncertainty than for decades.
One starting point is the sustained droughts in Syria 2006-2011, which forced an exodus from the land to the urban areas. Food and water shortages combined with the oppressive ASSAD regime, the rise of IS, a civil war, a humanitarian disaster, and climate change refugees flooding into Europe, all triggered by a climate change event.
Into 2016 and the UK launches a referendum on staying in Europe. BREXIT was not a vote on economic policies, but a knee jerk reaction to the fear of mass immigration of perceived undesirables into the country (from Syria). Additional false facts and lies about the NHS, fuelled a reaction, resulting in a leave the European Union.
The same emotive issue of immigration was a corner stone of the Trump election. The wall between Mexico and the US, the ‘banning’ on Muslim countries people travelling to the States, a surge in populism, and protectionism were all appealing to the voters.
Similar issues were voiced by Le Pen in the French election. Somewhat surprisingly the far right movement, suffered a resounding defeat by Macron, with a reversal of sentiment towards tolerance and humanitarian policy.
Trump then pulls out of the Paris Climate Agreement, signed by 195 countries. Met with condemnation both within the USA, from oil and fossil fuel companies, and even from North Korea, the grass roots movements from the people to go renewable and limit carbon emissions is taking hold.
And to the UK election, where May looked for the support of a hard Brexit, to lose a majority, certainly backfired. A change of sentiment is evident, moving away from a hard line to what ever a soft Brexit actually means.
Are all the world politicians out of sync with what the voters are thinking?
Perhaps one explanation is the lack of knowledge or understanding. Amazingly in the US, google saw a spike in the searches for climate change, (following the Trump withdrawal) that is clear evidence that the population really has had little understanding of what is happening. (See google graph).
The silver lining of Trump pulling out may actually have done more good than bad, if the world is waking up to one of the greatest threats for future generations being climate change.
And finally to South Africa. Caught up in never ending news of leaked emails, alleged corruption, denials, and political manoeuvring, it is easy to forget that much of the country has just come out of the worst droughts in decades. Unfortunately for the Western Cape, the water shortages are still at a crisis point.
The recent worst storms for 30 years in Cape Town, may be just one of those cyclical events, but the evidence would suggest, along with extreme weather occurrences, floods, typhoons, increasing around the world, it is just another example of climate change.
With world leaders united in moving forward in the fight against carbon, including The Pope, and excluding Syria (in a civil war) and Nicaragua, which says the Paris agreements don’t go far enough, South Africa having embarked on one of the successful public private partnership’s for clean energy through large scale renewables has stalled.
Keeping a clear head, being swept along by fast moving global events, is difficult particularly when local South African news, recession, junk status, politics, state capture, are all added into the equation.
Like it or not, accept it or deny it, climate change is happening, in the same way as population growth. By 2050 the world’s population is expected to double again. With it will be more carbons, more weather extremes, more droughts, more floods, more extreme weather, and less food security.
We can’t stop it, but maybe we can slow it, and with renewable and clean technology, both large scale and by end user, we may in time reverse it, providing a more sustainable world for future generations. It is down to the people of the world, rather than just the politicians, who need to create and enforce clean energy policies.