Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Climate Change

Recent weather events have raised the issue of climate change – yet again. The reactions of David Cameron and of Ed Miliband are revealing. Whilst it is true that the Prime Minister has to address current crises (particularly when they affect the South) and the Leader of the Opposition can avoid immediate issues in favour of longer-term issues, their reactions also says something about their attitudes.

Which is worrying.

Looking at a sample of Cameron’s reaction:

He said problems were likely to get worse as the volume of rain over recent weeks meant groundwater levels would keep rising in many places.

Scores of flood warnings and alerts are still in force.

Engineers have been working through the night to restore power to thousands of homes cut off after the storms.

Speaking after a Cobra emergency committee meeting on Saturday evening, Mr Cameron said: “Thankfully, it does appear that we will see less rain and wind over the next few days.

“However, after so much rain over recent weeks groundwater levels remain very high and in many places will continue to rise.”
BBC News Website: 16 February 2014 UK storms: Cameron warns of further flooding

And a sample of the Leader of the Opposition’s reaction:

“We have always warned that climate change threatens national security because of the consequences for destabilisation of entire regions of the world, mass migration of millions of people and conflict over water or food supplies.

“But the events of the last few weeks have shown this is a national security issue in our own country too, with people’s homes, businesses and livelihoods come under attack from extreme weather.

“And we know this will happen more in the future. The science is clear. The public know there is a problem.

“But because of political division in Westminster we are sleepwalking into a national security crisis on climate change.

“The terrible events of the last few weeks should serve as a wake-up call for us all.”
BBC News Website 16 February 2014 Ed Miliband: Climate change a ‘national security issue’

I get the impression that (despite the above) both actually believe in climate change – even if not scientifically educated that have been told the difference between climate and weather. Rationally they both believe this. But emotionally they then diverge.

The Labour Leader seems to understand that “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” (IPCC CLIMATE CHANGE 2013 The Physical Science Basis Summary for Policymakers p21 D.3 Detection and Attribution of Climate Change)

I am not sure that our Prime Minister actually believes this “inconvenient truth”. It is inconvenient to him (and his fellow Tory travellers like Lord Lawson – who actually denies climate change) because the level of response required cannot be achieved within their world view.

A “Small State” view of Government cannot address climate change, it can only put troops (for as long as we have them) into heartland areas that have flooded due to specific weather events. “Market Mechanisms” have proved incapable of bring about the scale of change required. If it is part of your political make up that the State should be small and that the market should be allowed to provide then you become impotent in the light of global changes and can only be a victim.

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