Friday 24 May 2019


I missed the broadcast in April this year of Sir David Attenborough's 'Climate Change - The Facts' - but I caught up with the programme last Wednesday evening on BBC iPlayer. Thank goodness! Watch for one hour and prepare to spend the rest of your days more knowingly - and hopefully with less of a carbon footprint. Yes, I had a pretty good grasp of climate change before. But living through the presentation of the facts and analysis for one searing hour does open the eyes. Twenty of the last twenty-two years are the hottest ever recorded. As a political activist, I now understand even more knowingly my duty. Those who have wealth and power and think only of their self-centred instincts - they must be thwarted. If we fail to stop the actions of those who are responsible for climate change, we kiss goodbye to life as we know it.

The end of civilisation is the full-stop after Climate Change.

Our world's first industrial revolution took off in Britain getting on for 250 years ago. This new way of making and using energy soon became standard practice throughout Europe and north America in the 19th century - factories and railways were amongst its most obvious manifestations, and smoke and steam of course. The industrial revolution that was changing the landscape so radically required coal-burning, and that in turn releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. We now know that

these emissions of CO2 and other gases have in effect created a blanket in our upper atmosphere which is trapping the heat produced on our planet. Earth has become one degree centigrade warmer in the course of the last couple of centuries.

The climate change we are now experiencing is the result. The frequency of extreme weather events is increasing - and at such a pace that creatures which have evolved to withstand extreme conditions like desert bats cannot cope with this new degree of sustained heat and aridity. They perish.

Ice caps melt - polar bears perish. 

Eight per cent of all species are at risk solely due to climate change. We are facing the collapse of the world's eco-systems.

More warmth means more moisture evaporating from the oceans that make up over two-thirds (71%)of the surface of our planet. More moisture in the atmosphere means at times more rainfall - and more floods.

Climate Change Collage

As our planet heats up, 90 per cent of that heat is captured and stored in our oceans - and as a result one-third of our planet's submarine coral systems are dying or dead.

More warmth means at times longer periods when vegetation becomes a tinder-box; ignition produces fire-storms that destroy everything in their path.

More warmth means that the polar ice caps are melting. Sea-levels then rise - 20 centimetres in the last 100 years. Coastal lands flood and are eventually lost to the sea.

Climate Change - the evidence

The warnings of scientists such as James Hudson about the Greenhouse Effect were reaching the ears of politicians on the international stage by 1988. They seemed to be listening; promises were made; but no policies to tackle climate change followed. Why not? In large measure, the answer lies in the power of the fossil fuel companies - the petrochemical multi-national corporations such as Shell and BP who have been probably the most profitable enterprises ever to have existed on our planet. They have until now determined to resist the calls for change. We have seen a concerted effort to confuse and obfuscate the issues. Time and time, the line was delivered: 'We cannot be certain of what the science is telling us'. Meanwhile, they continued to extract the maximum profit for as long as possible from their activities - just as the tobacco companies for decades sheltered behind the lie that they did not know for sure that there was a causal link between smoking and lung cancer. Climate change deception now finds its champion in the form of the president of the USA. "It's a hoax", declared Donald Trump in 2016.

Nevertheless, it's not just the wealthy and powerful with their obvious self-interest and greed who are responsible; we are all implicated - but there are very different degrees of accountability.

One certain way in which we are adding to our nightmare scenario has become only too visible since the first satellite able to take images of the earth's surface was launched into orbit in 1972. Since then, we have developed a complete graphic record of the assault on our planet's lungs - the great rainforests which through photosynthesis in trees absorb so much CO2. One-third of our emissions of CO2 are captured in the planet's forests. Something dreadful has been happening to these forests. These images from space reveal the global scale of the destruction of great swathes of forest. Deforestation for unregulated, self-interested profit has become one of the key factors causing climate change. One third of the increase in carbon in the atmosphere is due to this wholesale destruction of forest not only for the purpose of logging but also to clear the land for the cultivation of fodder crops and, very importantly, palm oil cultivation and production. The ubiquitous palm oil is the new arable gold-dust.

The scientific projections for global warming suggest a 2 degree centigrade increase within a couple of decades - and a 3 to 6 degrees increase by the end of the century. The consequences? Rising sea levels; the loss of coastal cities, towns and villages; raging fire-storms on land; drought and the creation of new arid deserts; mass migrations of peoples; social and political turmoil; the collapse of civilisation as we now know it.

Drought as the Earth becomes warmer

Inequalities between the Developed World and the Developing World will intensify, as will inequalities within these worlds. So much is predictable. But what of the unknowable consequences? Scientists are now talking the language of 'tipping points' - those moments when the planet's eco-system spirals out of control. Here's one scary illustration of a tipping point: When the ice caps melt, methane gases that have been trapped under the Arctic ice cap are released. Methane is 20 times more powerful than CO2 as an agent of global warming. We can only guess what will happen when a critical amount of methane has been released.

Yet there is still hope. In 2015, the Climate Change Agreement was signed by the leaders of the international community. There is a commitment to remove carbon dioxide. Reforestation is on the agenda. The science of direct air capture is being developed. We know that our average carbon footprint is 13 tons per person per year - and that food accounts for about one-third of that footprint. We can avoid imported food, especially beef and lamb. Cultural and political changes are possible and will make a difference. The wilful ignorance of politicians such as Trump can be challenged and its threat overcome.

Greta Thunberg, aged 15, in 2018 - her protest outside the Swedish Parliament

As David Attenborough's programme moved to its end, I found the words and character of Greta Thunberg, the Swedish school-girl, so inspirational: 'I stopped going to school - I stopped following - Why should we go to school when there is no future?  - Why should we learn facts when there is only one fact that matters? She, aged 15, last year founded the school strikes for climate movement that has become a global phenomenon. Google Greta Thunberg and see how the knives of those who serve the interests of the wealthy and powerful are already drawn and at work to draw blood from the prophet. I want to share from Wikipedia this reaction from one of her teachers:

One teacher who supports her said: "Greta is a troublemaker, she is not listening to adults. But we are heading full speed for a catastrophe, and in this situation the only reasonable thing is to be unreasonable."[15]
I have such respect for Greta. I hope you do.

Greta Thunberg - April 2019 - speaking in the European Parliament

Jeremy Corbyn does. In March this year he gave a speech to the Scottish Labour Party that reflected how important tackling climate change is for him personally and how fundamental it will be to the policies of a Labour government. Here is my edited, abridged version of an online report by Chris Green in i News, dated March 8, 2019 - I acknowledge my debt with gratitude:

In a speech to the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee, he described tackling climate change as a “class issue” due to its disproportionate impact on the less well off.
“It is working class people who will be left behind as the rich escape rising sea levels”
Jeremy Corbyn
Warning that the problem is the biggest threat to people’s futures, he promised to make it the “central issue” of the party’s industrial strategy if it wins power.
The Labour leader took aim at the Scottish Government‘s proposals on climate change, claiming its plans do not go far enough, in comments likely to be welcomed by green groups.
“We are facing a climate crisis. There’s no bigger threat to our future. And fundamentally, the destruction of our climate is a class issue,” Mr Corbyn told the party’s spring conference.
"Big corporations will never do anything serious about it. The Conservative government will never do anything serious about it either. But Labour will make it a central objective of our industrial strategy.”

Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in 2017

Climate Change and Corbyn: do you hear how they chime? 




  1. Greta speaks truth to power - she is inspirational

  2. Yes - we all need to speak truth to power.