I agree with Barry M Jones that global population is a massive problem we face. It has more than doubled in my lifetime, up to seven billion, and is forecast to increase by a further billion people by 2025.
Where I disagree is on the matter of climate change, on which Mr Jones frequently comments on the Letters page. The media love a good debate, and plenty of maverick politicians, journalists and scientists can be found to say otherwise, but the scientific evidence that human caused global warming is occurring is now overwhelming. It is akin to having a debate on whether or not smoking tobacco or being exposed to asbestos are bad for one’s health.
The arctic summer ice has this year shrunk to a quarter of its size over the last three decades. It is now forecast that the arctic will be ice free in summer within forty years, this would be the first time this has occurred for at least three million years, probably much longer. The continued ice loss will lead to more extreme weather, a rise in sea levels, diminished food production and greater release of carbon currently locked away in permafrost and in methane hydrates in the seabed.
Fossil fuel carbon dioxide is now being emitted at the rate of thirty five billion tonnes per year and continues to increase. Just because it is invisible does not mean it disappears out of existence, it has been known to be a greenhouse gas since the Victorian era. By burning fossil fuels, we are releasing into the atmosphere over a very short time period carbon that has been locked away in the ground over a period of two hundred and fifty million years. Widespread deforestation is compounding the problem, as forests act as vital carbon sinks. The average global temperature has increased by almost one degree over the last century. If we continue as we are, the climate could easily warm by four or five degrees by the end of this century, with pretty disastrous consequences.
I have considerable sympathy for those politicians who recognise the problem and want to do more, in the face of an electorate who may be unsure or even sceptical, despite the science. We should at the very least recognise our role in having got us into this predicament, rather than not facing up to our responsibilities and blaming it on others. We have outsourced most of our production of consumer goods to China: their emissions are our emissions.
As for immigration, another of Mr Jones’ favourite topics, there is little doubt that climate change induced floods and droughts will see more people than ever wanting to join our shores, while we still have enough wealth to reduce the impacts. Who are we to blame them?
Dominic Manning, Love Lane, Rye