Extreme Weather: Will we ever learn? – Liberal Article

Extreme Weather: Will we ever learn? – Liberal Article

Across the world in 2021 we are witnessing the stark realities of the climate crisis and its consequent extreme weather. The recent devastating flooding in China and across Europe only grazes the surface of events that have unfolded so far. Scientists have long warned us about climate change. At the top of these warnings has been severe changes in the weather patterns.

This is only the beginning (if something does not change immediately). Change is not happening quick enough and the clock is ticking. To highlight the nature of the current situation just take a second to consider this year: 

In January alone, we witnessed record-breaking snowfall in Madrid, Storm Christoph in the UK, and Cyclone Ana in Fiji. Winter storms in Texas left millions without power as temperatures dropped to nearly -13°C; a dust storm in China saw schools shut. Following this, the first serious flooding this year began in New South Wales, Australia, leaving thousands needing to evacuate their homes.

April brought further chaos. We saw another cyclone in Indonesia (Seroja), followed by wildfires in Greece, record temperatures in Moscow, and arguably the most dramatic example of extreme weather a heat dome in the Northwest United States. Then, finally, the recent floods. From New York to West Germany to China, fatalities have been seen throughout the world as extreme rainfall has left developed countries’ drainage systems in tatters.

There are those that would argue that these events could not have been prevented or that these catastrophes have been exacerbated by other factors. The simple fact is the rise in extreme weather is a direct result of climate change. Our expansion and development are responsible.

The events that I have mentioned above are worse than ever seen before. Of course, cyclones and wildfires existed prior to us but they are becoming more frequent and those mentioned above are the most destructive we have seen. 

The time is now or never. We must learn from these fatal events. There is no excuse. It should not take extreme events for us to wake up, it is already too late. Most of the above events could have been prevented and further fatalities can be avoided if we act. 

It is time that everyone stops passing on the blame and instead takes responsibility for their impact. No one seems to care when it does not directly impact them, well now it is. It is time that we face up to the fact that the human population is the problem.

This article is not just about explaining the problem; I want to offer some solutions. I am not perfect, but I am trying my best to lessen my impact and encourage you to do the same. It is easy to sit back and blame large corporations, but they are consumer-led. If we continue to provide them with profit then they will never change. The recurring cycle will remain. Thus, if we as individuals adjust, then we can all force industries to accelerate changes and have a significant impact.

Firstly, reducing our red meat consumption can have a significant impact. This is not to say that everyone should be vegan or vegetarian. This is too difficult for many of us. However, reducing your consumption of beef and lamb can make a difference. This switch to less carbon-intensive meats will reduce your carbon footprint.

The carbon footprint of red meats is specifically high because of the inefficient transformation of plant to animal energy and the methane released. To exemplify the difference, beef’s carbon emission per kg is 7.2 times greater than chicken.

Additionally, whilst most households recycle, ensuring that this continues is essential. It is not only packaging that should be recycled, we all need to try to minimise waste wherever possible. For example, clothing should be donated to charity shops or upcycled for another use. Following on from this, buying from charity shops is also important. Whilst we are all partial to buying new clothing, using charity shops when able to could also make a difference. If not, research into sustainable companies would not go amiss. 

These suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg and I encourage anyone reading this to research other ways in which they can make a difference. We should all be aware of global warming and the role that we play. Events this year are only the start; we have been warned and we will pay the price if we do not heed the warnings.

 Written by Liberal Writer, Fletcher Kipps

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Point of Information

We have learned, we are just inactive – A Conservative Response

My colleague writes a fair argument. There is not much to mention with regards to the impacts of climate change other than they have had fatal consequences in parts of the world and these tragedies will continue.

If you are like me and grew up in UK state schools, you have been learning about climate change since reception. It is not a case of people learning about climate change, it is a case of our responses being more active. 

Climate change is at the front of our political consciousness. All of the major parties that stood in the 2019 general election included strategies to combat climate change in their manifestos. Furthermore, climate change has once again entered the “top three issues the public consider the most pressing for Britain”.

We are not unaware of the issues we face with regards to climate change, or even the impacts. It is just a case of actually getting things done. If David Attenborough’s reception at Glastonbury in 2019 is anything to go on, people are very aware and in support of combating climate change. People do care and are knowledgeable.

My colleague’s comment that “the human population is the problem” is a bit crude, as I do not believe a liberal is attributing the entirety of humanity to being problematic. But the sentiment behind it, that our lifestyles, on the whole, are not sustainable, is a fair comment to make.

I do not believe that governments should use force to change their citizens’ lifestyles. But as suggested in the main article, the lifestyle changes must be made voluntarily.

On a larger scale, governments must implement laws prohibiting companies and transnational corporations (TNCs) from designing products with planned obsolescence. To be specific – no product has a lifespan of forever – but companies must make products designed to last for as long as possible. They should not build them so they become too slow to use so you buy newer models, like smartphones.

Overall, if we are to start becoming more active in combating climate change, individuals need to take responsibility and act more environmentally friendly. My colleague already said this, but it really is a point to hammer home. If people take responsibility by making their governments and the large TNCs take responsibility, we can start to live in better harmony with our planet.

If people want change to happen, they need to start at home, after that, it will spread. Climate change is already the third most pressing issue for Brits currently. Perhaps once life gets fully back to normal and economies recover, it will become the most pressing issue.

Written by Co-Deputy Chief of Conservatives, Peter Pearce 

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Systemic change is needed to combat this extreme weather  – A Labour Response 

My colleague accurately identifies some actions we can take as individuals and consumers to reduce our carbon footprint and become more environmentally conscious. 

However, in a world where corporations are responsible for the overwhelming majority of emissions, pinning this problem on consumers is ultimately misleading. A 2017 study found that just one hundred fossil fuel producers including Shell and ExxonMobil are responsible for producing 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. A further study in 2019 found that only twenty polluting firms are responsible for over a third of greenhouse gas emissions.

So to point to individual action as a serious solution to climate change is misleading. Although cutting red meat consumption can seriously reduce your carbon footprint, the entire world population cannot sustainably move to a vegetarian or vegan diet and, more importantly, will not. A focus on individual action is a distraction from how the top oil firms spend millions lobbying to block policies aiming to prevent climate change. To stop the climate crisis, we need systemic, not individual change. 

Written by Deputy Chief Labour Writer, Brian Byrne

Fletcher Kipps
Chief Conservative political writer at | Website

I am an incoming third year undergraduate currently studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Exeter. I am socially liberal, fiscally conservative editor here at POI. I have been fascinated by politics for many years, from PMQs to late night election results all which has led to the desire to study this at university.

Peter Pearce
Deputy Chief of Conservatives | Website

I am going into my second year at the University of Exeter studying a flexible combined honour in Geography and Politics. My interest in politics and geography stems from an interest in current events and the wider world, with geography being the study of all world processes.

Brian Byrne
Guest Labour Writer | Website

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