Climate change is getting a lot of attention and rightly so. However, there has to be a balance in how much sacrifice people living today should make for future generations as it's usually the less well-off that are lumped with the greatest burden.
The European Commission says that global emissions need to be cut by around 50% by the middle of this century if we are to have a chance of keeping climate change within tolerable limits – that is, if we are to hold the global average temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That is some challenge.
Technology will be one factor. Japanese car manufacturer Toyota for example has reduced energy use in manufacturing 30% since 2000. The US uses about the same amount of energy today as it did 30 years ago.
The EU has pioneered the emission trading system that results in a cost for those who do not pay attention to carbon.
In a blistering attack that echoes Europe's budget airline's CEO Michael O'Leary's dismissal of advocates of restrictions on air travel as "nutbags," car firm Daimler-Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has attacked "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their "Chicken Little" attitudes to global warming.
Tony Blair told a press conference on Tuesday: "This country leads the world both in terms of the issue of climate change and also meeting our Kyoto targets on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. But I am not going to be in the situation of saying I'm not going to take holidays abroad or use air travel. It's just not practical."
Earlier he sparked fierce criticism from green groups and opposition parties by giving a Sky News interview in which he refused to take breaks closer to home and said no politician would end cheap flights.
One of Blair's advisers, environmental activist Sir Jonathon Porritt acknowledged that Blair had done more than any other world leader to raise awareness about climate change but said there was "a complete failure" to show leadership on the issue in Britain.
He told BBC Radio 4 it was "completely wrong" for the Prime Minister to suggest scientists could be relied on to find a painless solution to global warming and to think that voters were unwilling to change their own behaviour. "I am not saying Mr Blair should never take another foreign holiday, but I am saying that he should be looking carefully at the impacts of those holidays," he said.
Sir Jonathon accused Blair of having "a policy of complete fatalistic despair" by arguing that Britain accounted for only 2 per cent of global carbon emissions. "If we are going to advise and influence other countries to reduce emissions, we have got to take the lead ourselves - in our own lives and as a nation through the economy," he said.
To advocate extreme action while competitors for jobs are doing otherwise is a luxury for people on a payroll who have no fear of unenemployment.
John Gummer, a former secretary of state for the environment , said Blair's defence of his "shaming" long-haul trips was "a great dereliction of duty".
Chris Huhne, environment spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said Blair's remarks showed he was "delusional" on climate change and that his environmentalism was only "skin deep".Just wonder how many holidays they will take in Bournemouth until it becomes the new Riveria?
It's a fair bet that most of the eco-extremists want to have their cake and eat it too and nothing will please some of them.
In 1994, Dr. Patrick Moore a founder of Greenpeace who's cenrist approach has been rejected by some of his former colleagues, wrote in 1994:
For me, Greenpeace is about ringing an ecological fire alarm, waking mass consciousness to the true dimensions of our global predicament, pointing out the problems and defining their nature. Greenpeace doesn't necessarily have the solutions to those problems and certainly isn't equipped to put them into practice. That requires the combined efforts of governments, corporations, public institutions and environmentalists. This demands a high degree of cooperation and collaboration. The politics of blame and shame must be replaced with the politics of working together and win-win.
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