This weekend, we felt the devastating effect of the most intense rainfall ever recorded in Cumbria. Roads have been washed away like sandcastles and cracked open like eggshells. Carlisle, Cockermouth, Keswick, Kendal, Appleby and Ambleside have all been flooded like never before. Even Lancaster’s town centre was under water, along with its electricity sub station, throwing 55,000 homes into a long, dark night.
So where is the shining light of Storm Desmond’s silver lining? Some parts of the planet are under much more water than Cumbria and it’s going to get worse. Here’s an article about the link between climate change and increased risk of flooding in case you’re sceptical. So what’s the good news?
Human induced global warming can be brought to a stop. We can do it.
To the best of our knowledge and belief, we either evolved from single cell organisms, or we have God on our side. Either way, that’s a pretty impressive set of credentials. So let’s get on with it.
Some of us are real experts in this. There are people who devote their lives to understanding climate change. They are intelligent, they work hard and they care about what they do. They are in a brilliant position to advise us about climate change. They are the people we should be reading, watching and listening to. They are the scientists. They know their stuff.
If you already know what to do, please do it, please spread the word and please lead by example. We need you. If you’re wondering what to do, please read about it, please Google it and please ask questions. We all need to think about this. For what it’s worth, here’s what I’ve learned so far…
We need to reduce our average carbon footprint to two tonnes per year. The UK average is ten tonnes per year. That’s a big change but it’s microscopic compared to our evolution, or our faith. We will have to take big steps in our lifetimes but it’s a small step for mankind. We have survived ice-ages and great floods without so much as a penknife, let alone a rocket or a space suit.
I have been working on this for two years and my carbon footprint is close to four tonnes per year, without carbon offsetting. There are online carbon footprint calculators that will tell you roughly how much carbon you account for. They will also tell you which areas of your life it comes from. For example, owning my Ford Transit contributes about one tonne per year and the 5000 miles I drive per year contribute one more.
That’s the half of it. What about the rest? I eat local animals that lived outside and grazed on grass. I burn wood for fuel. It’s carbon neutral. I have no fridge or freezer. I use a cool box. I buy fresh and often. I have a twenty-five litre kitchen water tank I have to refill. It makes me careful. My lighting is powered by a battery. The battery is charged by my 5000 miles per year. So is my phone. My laptop is second hand. It still needs mains electricity. I need to work on that.
I’m working on creating my life into one where I live, work and play close to home. Ideally, I would never drive again. Realistically, I may still have a small electric car that’s recharged by a small hydro power scheme in the Great Langdale valley. This is all very possible in the near future. Where there’s a will, there normally is a way in Britain. We are very lucky like that and that luck means that we have a great opportunity. Now there’s a thought…