Sunday, 3 January 2010

Going Green

In my view, the only important issue the planet faces is that of population: all the others - climate change, shortage of landfill sites, pollution, nuclear proliferation, etc - are, comparatively speaking, sideshows. Of course, pessimists have opined through the ages that Armageddon is upon us in terms of population and yet, in the event, we have always adapted. But in the past the changes have been gradual: what makes this crisis different is that a step change is involved. The world's resources are currently consumed by a tenth of its population. The other nine tenths have now begun to stir, and they aim to enjoy similar consumption over a time scale of just a few decades.

Ideally, therefore, we would have a world population one tenth of its present size. My calculations indicate that, if the world were to adopt the Chinese model of one child per family, it would take some 400 years to achieve this goal. That probably isn't going to happen, so you might prefer to adopt the greenest possible policies in order to buy more time - just in case the world does eventually decide to make a serious assault on the population problem.

In this spirit, I have signed up to 10:10 myself, and I am delighted that the City Council (approving a motion brought and seconded by the Liberal Democrats) has decided to do the same. Of course, in signing up for it, one faces the problem that it is much harder to achieve a 10% reduction in one's CO2 footprint if one has already instituted many of the obvious measures like insulation, energy-saving bulbs, and so on; and it isn't immediately apparent how to establish a base-line so as to be able to judge how one is getting on. I'm hoping that the 10:10 site will give help on this during the course of the coming year.