There are days I wish I had just been reading Hello magazine and seen if Katie Price is happy now she’s left her boyfriend, or got back with him or which ever she’s done.
So relaxing. All is well with the world.
But I don’t. I’m a fool to myself. I’m somehow drawn to try and find out what is going on in the actual world. Stupid, stupid mistake.
I'd be the first to admit that if we all suddenly drove electric cars then all the problems besetting the world would be instantly solved. It’s obviously just a small part of a much larger change that needs to take place.
Unlike environmental evangelists I’m actually rather good at burying my head in the sand. I know some terrible things are happening, I try to do my bit but it all seems a bit too enormous and what can I possibly do to make a difference? Better not to think about it to much and stumble on as best as possible.
We can look back at our parents and think, well, it was tough for them, but it’s got much better for us.
They in turn could look at their parents and realise things had improved, electric lights, mains sewerage, gas cookers. My grandparents could look back at their parents, in my case peasant farmers in the Welsh borders, and think they had a better life in the city.
However we are the first generation in a few centuries who can look at our kids and think, ‘Oh Lordy, it’s going to be so much tougher for them than it has been for us.’
The scale of the problems building up for all of us is truly enormous, I still believe they are not impossible to overcome with ingenuity, sacrifice and effort, but it’s not going to be easy.
Having just listened to an interview with a man called Lester Brown, it was hard not to end up being a little anxious. Brown is a long term environmentalist, I say long term, he started working in this area when even I was a little baby, so he’s been studying the subject for some time.
I feel ashamed I haven’t heard of him before, although I now realise I have heard a lot about his work.
He is the founder of the Worldwatch Institute (http://www.worldwatch.org/) and he’s published dozens of books on agriculture, the environment and population.
What he says is at once chilling and encouraging. Everything I had a vague feeling of disquiet about he clarifies and explains.
We’re not just running out of oil, we’re running out of water and land that can sustain crops. There is now ample evidence from around the world that climate change is having an effect on our ability to produce food in the amounts we need to.
Rain patterns are changing and land that once used to supply food starts to fail.
I have read about the possibility of a drought in China, I thought it was a possibility, it's not. It's already happening right now.
China is using water from fossil aquifers to irrigate their fields. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. A fossil aquifer is a water source that is finite, water that’s been resting in the depths of the earth for millions of years. When it runs out, like oil, there’s no replenishment, the crops fail. And as we all know, China needs to grow a fairly chunky amount of food.
So the Chinese will need to start importing grain, the price will go up, the exporting nations start to restrict the exports, the world gets a little tense.
The USA is a major grain exporter but if they start shipping truly gargantuan amounts to China, everything gets thrown out of whack. And the USA can’t really say no because China owns most of the USA’s debt, and that is a lot of money. Trillions of dollars. So to say our present day head in the sand, borrow the money and we’ll sort it later attitude is a little head in the sand-ish is a bit of an understatement.
As Mr Brown so aptly put it, "we're doing exactly the same thing as Enron, leaving costs off the books. Consuming today with no concern for tomorrow is not a winning philosophy."
As for electric cars, the sooner the better no doubt. The price of oil is clearly going to go up further and faster than even I expected, but I now feel we really should have been doing so much more for so much longer. Back in the 1970‘s when I first because aware that our habit of ravaging the planet was probably a bit short term, I really tried to live differently. However events and habits meant I did less and less until a few years ago. I’m not an environmentalist, I’m not preaching from some position of knowledge. There’s a big chunk of landfill with my name on it. I have behaved just like 99% of people in the developed world in the last 30 years and made a right mess. I’ve had a great time, travelled the world, eaten wonderful food, slept in amazing houses, used well stocked and cheap supermarkets, driven powerful, oil thirsty cars. I don’t even have a leg hair to stand on, let alone a leg. The only possible difference now is that I can see my behavior wasn’t very enlightened, I accept that I have to change. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to change that much this soon, but it looks like I’m in for a shock. Probably not as much shock as some though.
Hey ho. Have a lovely day.