Time to act against climate change to prevent extreme weather

Boxing Day floods of 2015. Picture by Steve Midgley
Boxing Day floods of 2015. Picture by Steve Midgley

The most serious problem that we face is climate change which is already increasing flooding and droughts.

Unless action is taken our grandchildren will face even more extreme weather.

The scientific theory behind climate change is quite simple. I was taught how a greenhouse worked at school over 60 years ago. High energy radiation from the Sun goes through glass and is absorbed inside the greenhouse.

Energy is also radiated from inside the greenhouse but is low energy and cannot escape. Hence, the inside of the greenhouse warms up. The same principle applies to greenhouse gases of which carbon dioxide is the main one.

The burning of coal, oil and gas has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and more of the Sun’s energy is trapped.

Nobody questioned how a greenhouse worked. However, reducing carbon dioxide emissions conflicts with the financial interests of oil and coal companies. Consequently, they funded organisations to oppose action on climate change, and to confuse politicians and the general public.

Some politicians were also more interested in their personal advancement than the effects of climate change on people.

The consequences of climate change are loss of lives, homes, jobs and food production and the future looks worse. The problem is global and needs to be tackled at all levels. The UK

Government has continuously supported the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Signing agreements to tackle climate change is the easy bit. Action is more difficult. Action is needed at all levels, by Government, by local councils, businesses and individuals.

To cut carbon emissions we need to reduce the demand for fossil fuels. This can be achieved by publicity, legislation or taxation. A positive move towards renewable energy, using solar, wind or tidal energy would help. In addition to reducing demand energy efficiency needs to be adopted. Our housing and buildings could be designed to be much more energy efficient.

Lifestyle changes are also needed although cutting cruises and flying will meet huge resistance.

Sadly, when it comes to reducing energy demand or energy efficiency, the track record of our Government is pathetic. The Government has promoted economic growth which increases energy demand.

They have removed support for solar, blocked on-shore windmills and abandoned energy efficient homes. Recently, the Government approved an additional runway at Heathrow. More flights, more carbon emissions, means more climate change. On present trends we will wreck the planet yet both of our local MP s voted to hit the accelerator.

Locally, Calderdale MBC promotes economic growth, tourism and £500million expenditure on roads. Little consideration is given to energy efficient pedestrians or cyclists. A fundamental rethink is required so that all Calderdale citizens have access to amenities and cut the need to travel. My favourite is a sports centre in Elland.

The individual can make a difference. I have improved the insulation on all my homes, and have had cavity wall insulation and double glazing for nearly 50 years. I have energy efficient appliances.

I have solar panels which generate my annual electricity consumption. My wife and I waste little food, compost banana skins etc., and grow some of our own food.
Action on climate change is urgent and the Green Party has its science-based policy on its website.