A new academic paper, by Prof. Jem Bendell, (published by the Institute of Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria) online a couple of days ago provides a sober assessment of the current state of climate change science and politics. “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy” doesn’t just look at the science – and yes, some of the uncertainties in that science – but the much less examined nature of our psychological and societial response to climate change, which the author posits underestimates the imminence of severe impacts which one feels will be unprecedented in our time. It’s a long paper, but it is well worth reading, raising as it does vitally important questions about what the hell we think we are going to do, in all probability, in our own lifetimes.
We seem to have come to the end of a heatwave – an ‘abnormality’ which many scientists predict will become the new norm – and already tales of crop shortages are rife. For the time being, the worst outcome may be temporarily higher prices for some foodstuffs. So what? We’ll get over it. But what I have found co-incidentally interesting these last couple of weeks was the story that the government has been seeping ministerial talk (this government talks more than it plans) about stockpiling food in case of a no-deal Brexit.
Now Brexit in global terms is neither here nor there, but the model of our trade, where things are delivered ‘just in time’ from distant markets is crucial to our concept of just nipping down to the supermarket for whatever produce we may fancy on a whim. If we have to think about stockpiling merely because of the government’s inability to get a Brexit deal, what hope in hell have we got when climate change really begins to bite? Our society is simply not prepared for that and if as is possible there are a couple of years of significantly bad climate change ‘abnormalities’ (and who said climate change needs be linear) then we are likely to experience shocks which will be highly unpredictable in their outcomes and possibly beyond the capacity of government to control.
Of course, some will say ‘crying wolf.’ If you trust Nigel Lawson, fine. But despite the likes of him et al (all the way up to the White House) measurements show that since 1850, of the 18 hottest years globally, 17 occurred since 2000. We’re going to need more than just sun cream. It may not just be food we need to stockpile.
I thoroughly recommend reading this paper.