Buying Time (1/3): Climate change and the case for ‘global breakdown cover’
A month ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) told the world that we have just 12-years to avoid a catastrophic climate breakdown.
Believe it or not, this is actually a conservative assessment. At least this is the view of a growing chorus of scientists and academics that believe climate change is reaching an end game and that our very survival is uppermost.
To get a handle on the panic, take a moment to reflect over your next soya milk latte. It’s likely to be as well — if not better — travelled than you. The coffee beans, soya milk, and chocolate dust topping arrive in your mug through a complex weave of just-in-time cross-border supply chains. Think of your coffee as the refined outcome of a never-ending game of Tetris (the tile-matching puzzle video game) where the ingredients gently fall and snap together in orderly sequence.
This is a microcosm of today’s global economy — the most incredible and fragile feat of human civilisation. Because climate change has no truck with orderly sequence. Changes to weather — as a result of rising temperature — threaten to play havoc with global agriculture and crop yields. No more Tetris.
At the benign end of the spectrum, there might not be any more soya milk lattes. Of course, you may consider this a small price to pay in a climate impacted UK. We’ll cover the country in greenhouses and learn to repair our clothes. Just like our grandparents. And every generation before them.
But to paraphrase John Donne, no country is an island when it comes to climate change. A global economy in perpetual stress threatens a great deal more than the soya milk latte. Searing temperatures across Europe prompted the European Association of Fruit and Vegetable Processors to say it was the most serious situation in the last 40 years. Irish suppliers have warned consumers that the price of potatoes could double in price over the next year.
What if this became the pattern of future European harvests as global temperature continued to rise? Could this herald the so-called ‘global emergency’? But far from heralding the end of the world, we’re told this could yet be an epoch-making opportunity to fashion an alternative to consumer…