Christian activist: No more oil money
Take a deep breath,” she said. So we did. “We who are alive today are the first humans in history to breathe air containing 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide”, said Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, to an audience at St Paul’s Cathedral in May.
We stand at a fork in the road, with the financial and technological resources to take one of two routes into the unknown. One is business as usual, continuing to grow an economy based on the twin pillars of oil and debt. We can keep burning more fossil fuels to power our consumer lifestyles, and so keep increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere beyond its already dangerous level. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has collated research that makes it clear that this high concentration of carbon dioxide, unprecedented in human history, is likely to harm food production, water supplies, weather patterns and sea levels, which in turn will affect security, health and wellbeing. But who wants to change? There are huge deposits of oil, gas and coal in the ground; they are getting harder to extract – but we have the finance and the technology to get them out, burn them and keep going, and there’s always a chance we will be OK. It’s a huge gamble against all the odds, but, hey, it’s exciting to live dangerously!
The other route is to leave the remaining fossil fuels in the ground. According to the Centre for Alternative Technology’s Zero-Carbon Britain report, we can move to a zero-carbon scenario using current technology. We have the finance and the technology to move away from fossil fuels and we can develop new technology to be even more energy-efficient. What we lack is the will. Yet, there are likely to be many positive outcomes if we withdraw from fossil fuels. Energy-efficient lifestyles will be more cooperative and gentler; they will build community. The natural beauty of the world will be preserved; it will be good for health, jobs and security (including food and water security)…
This is an extract from the July/August 2014 edition of Reform.