Global warming has started, let's try to dent emissions

east devon

Storm Eunice battering Exmouth Seafront - Credit: East Devon District Council

The Climate Emergency continues to threaten our vision of a comfortable future after the war in Ukraine is quelled and the cost of living resolved. 

In January this year, cyclone Ana caused floods, death, destruction, and power outage across Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi. In February, tropical cyclone Batsirai brought more devastation to the same area, still struggling after the previous storm.  

South America had heavy rains in Ecuador and hundreds of people were killed in Brazil where the heaviest rain for 100 years set off landslides and flooding in Petropolis.  

Back home, storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin battered the British Isles, triggering the first ever ‘danger to life’ weather warning in London in February. Queensland and New South Wales in Australia were hit by extreme flooding caused by a year's worth of rain falling in a week. Extreme record-breaking climate events continue. 

The Ukraine war highlights how much of the world relies on fossil fuels - ignoring climate change carries its own risks. 

Meanwhile, our own response to the climate emergency highlighted in the COP26 summit in Glasgow, seems rather poor. Dogs fouling the beach do not contribute to global warming, but hundreds of cars bringing the dogs add to carbon emissions. Electric cars do have a carbon footprint before they reach the showroom, equivalent to the first 15,000 miles of a petrol car. 

When I was growing up, a quick trip to the shops was me being sent by bicycle with a list. Walking and cycling have zero carbon emissions, but seem reserved for recreation. East Devon District Council is not providing cycle parking, storage or cycle paths in business areas. 

Most Read

Do the main carbon emissions really come from other countries? Research on the internet makes scary reading. 

Tropical deforestation is currently responsible for around 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions; rain forests, including the Amazon, are being torn down to grow palm oil. Palm oil is a hidden ingredient in foods from frozen pizzas to chocolate bars, biscuits and margarine, as well as body creams, soaps, makeup, candles and detergents.  

The conversion of a single hectare of peat lands releases up to 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Blending biofuels into vehicle fuels does not reduce carbon emissions; they pollute less at the point of use, but with a high cost at the source. 

These are very long-term issues which will affect younger readers more than me. Short-term thinking by politicians contributes to the problem.  

Correcting climate change is a much longer-term project, too far ahead to be considered until it turns around and bites us, when it may be too late for remedial action. 

Short term fixes get votes; adding biofuels to petrol sounds good; keeping food prices down is a major concern; electric vehicles make easy news. Storms also get in the news, but the warnings are not being heeded. 

Political decisions need to look ahead many decades, not just a couple of years. Meanwhile, walk, cycle, use the bus or train and avoid products using palm oil or produced in coal or gas burning countries.