Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Ethical shopping is just another way of showing how rich you are

The middle classes congratulate themselves on going green, then carry on buying and flying as much as before

It wasn't meant to happen like this. The climate scientists told us that our winters would become wetter and our summers drier. So I can't claim that these floods were caused by climate change, or are even consistent with the models. But, like the ghost of Christmas yet to come, they offer us a glimpse of the possible winter world that we will inhabit if we don't sort ourselves out.

With rising sea levels and more winter rain - and remember that when the trees are dormant and the soils saturated, there are fewer places for the rain to go - all it will take is a freshwater flood to coincide with a high spring tide and we have a formula for full-blown disaster. We have now seen how localised floods can wipe out essential services and overwhelm emergency workers. But this month's events don't even register beside some of the predictions circulating in learned journals. Our primary political struggle must be to prevent the breakup of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. The only question now worth asking about climate change is how.

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