Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vote to save the planet

The British General Election in 2010

Dear Voter

You lucky thing. Not so long ago, you would have had no say in who made the decisions about your country. In 2010, your vote could decide the future of the entire world.

Photo by itspaulkelly

OK. Perhaps that's putting it a little dramatically. But look at the facts. The best scientific evidence we have suggests that without massive and sustained global action on carbon emissions starting now, our world will change quickly and irreversibly for the worse.

Maybe you think there's some uncertainty about the science. Maybe you think it'd be better to wait until the evidence is clearer. Maybe you think little old Britain shouldn't act while America and China are dragging their feet. Maybe you think it's all fine and dandy being concerned for the environment when times are good, but what about jobs? Maybe you think new technologies will solve the problem. Maybe you think climate change might at worst bring Mediterranean weather to our cold damp country.

If you believe any of these things, search Google. You'll find plenty of people who will agree with you. But also take a little time to hunt down the counter arguments (e.g. the Met Office, the Royal Society, New Scientist, and the IPCC), and decide for yourself. If afterwards you still believe these things, I doubt there's anything I could say to change your mind, so goodbye, bonne chance. I hope in the end it'll turn out you were right after all.

If you're still reading, then the question is: Who should you vote for to do what's needed to fight climate change?

At election time it's easy to be fooled into thinking that you should be voting for the politicians with the best sound-bites, the best put-downs, the best haircuts. Despite all the fine words, though, neither Labour nor the Conservatives are prepared to do what's necessary to fight climate change, if that means compromising on the economy.

Why? Because they know that the economy is the most immediate issue that most voters care about. They know that saying they're against new roads and runways would be unpopular. They know that taxing carbon emissions would be unpopular with motorists, holiday-makers and consumers of gas and electricity. They know that tightening regulations on energy efficiency would increase the costs of building new homes, hospitals and schools.

Labour and Conservative politicians are going to tell you grimly and sincerely that tough measures are needed in order to sort out public debt and so build a strong economy. And they're right. But they are placing economic prosperity above the fight against climate change, because they think that's what you want.

Is that what you want? Is it?