3 WALL-E or wallies?

DaveSaltman09.jpgThe end of September proved something of a conundrum for all sides of the climate change argument.

A report, from the UN's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), prompted renewed calls for global action to control emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases as scientists announced that they were '95% certain' that us humans are the dominant cause of climate change.

The IPCC had been on the back foot for some time, as interest in global warming waned, and focus had been fixed by sceptical voices on the so-called pause or hiatus; an observation that, since 1998, there has been no significant global warming despite ever increasing amounts of carbon dioxide being emitted.

Even in the final draft of the report, the IPCC was putting forward a number of theoretical ideas behind the fall-off in temperature rises over the last fifteen years, and was sheepishly acknowledging that its models failed to predict the slow-down.

Personally, I think that our climate is governed primarily by the sun - and has been since the dawn of time. The planet has gone through climate extremes throughout history, with some very considerable fluctuations, long before man started burning fossil fuels.

For the last fifteen years, there has been no increase in the temperatures so, given that the largest nations on the planet (India and China) were, and still are, in full-on industrial revolution during that period, I find it difficult to believe that we are making a significant impact.

I've heard the arguments and I still strongly hang on to argued points made, such as "cows produce more greenhouse gases than man ever will", and that "one large volcanic eruption sticks more carbon into the atmosphere than all the cars put together".

I don't doubt that man has helped increase pollutants and reduced ozone, but we forget that Mother Nature is a very complex eco system that repairs, adapts and evolves.

I certainly don't subscribe to taxes and futures being put in place based on offsetting carbon emissions.

Individually, we can do nothing that makes any serious changes. Collectively, do we all go back to working the land with horses and ploughs? It's not going to happen anytime soon.

I have always recycled, long before greenhouse gases became the norm. I watch the news and listen to the objectors camped out by proposed greenfield developments, GM crop sites or chaining themselves to a few trees, and laugh. Take a flight over the UK and you will see that our green and pleasant land far outweighs urbanisation.

In a TV programme the other night, there was a report on an invasive moth that is decimating our four million Horse Chestnut trees; maybe to the point of extinction - a moth that has been around long before man started causing the planet distress. It's nature, and it's called evolution, Darwin's survival of the fittest.

Perhaps I should also worry about deforestation, particularly in third-world countries, given that forests the size of the UK are being removed every year. However, larger scale deforestation has been taking place for more than a thousand years to provide agricultural land. Equally, there are robust projects that make sure that new forests are planted to compensate for what is removed.

How close are we to a world of Wall-E? I am a firm believer that our planet will sort things out and return to an equilibrium. As groundsmen and greenkeepers we already play our part in maintaining green space and, for that, I'm very proud of what we all do.

Dave Saltman

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