The Great Debate UK
Andrew Simms is policy director and head of the climate change programme at the London-based New Economics Foundation. The opinions expressed are his own.
Nothing reveals the thin veneer of civilisation like a threat to its fuel or food supply, or the cracks in society like a major climate-related disaster. But that, increasingly, is what we face: the global peak and decline of oil production; and a global food chain in crisis due to multiple stresses including imminent, potentially irreversible global warming.
The vulnerability of our system was revealed in the year 2000 when fuel protests in the UK disrupted food supplies and left the nation just, “nine meals from anarchy.” At the time, the government were able to force the restoration of fuel supplies. That was a short-term protest, but what if it’s the ground itself protesting that there is no longer enough oil to go around?
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said of world oil production that there will be, “a narrowing of spare capacity to minimal levels by 2013,”making, “significant downward revisions” from the previous year. Economic and social impacts from such a market shock could be even faster, deeper and more global than any banking crisis. They could also be potentially irreversible.
from The Great Debate:
European Union leaders this week face a crucial credibility test of their ambition to lead the world in fighting climate change, just as President-elect Barack Obama is making it a top priority for the United States.
Will the EU give real teeth to its pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020, draw 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources and cut energy consumption by 20 percent over the same period, or will it fall short?
A thought-provoking new book on Christianity's "lost history" holds that one of the central causes of 14th century religious persecution may well have been climate change. You can read my interview with author Philip Jenkins about "The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa and Asia -- and How It Died" on the Reuters website here.
"The Chronology of Christian sufferings under Islam closely mirrors that of Jews in Christian states," he writes, noting that "Around 1300, the world was changing, and definitely for the worse."