Nick Breeze - Articles
"The timescale suggested at present for radical [climate change] threatening the viability of humanity on this planet becomes more alarming the more research appears!"
Rowan Williams: Climate change, without doubt, is one of the largest threats to the long term security of the human race and in the shorter term, that means a threat to the security of the poor, the conflict ridden, the under resourced countries of our world. That is why we can’t simply put it off while we settle the fine details of how far we believe it's anthropogenic and how far it isn’t and one thing I think we can be sure of is that our existing practices in terms of carbon emissions and so forth, are not making it any better and if we know that, at least we know some of the things we ought to be doing. The timescales suggested at present for radical change threatening the stability, the viability, of humanity on this planet becomes more alarming the more research appears and that’s why we just need to be aware of all the options that might be available to us.
Nick Breeze: Is there anything we can do as individuals to respond to the threat of climate change?
Rowan Williams: It is one of the most difficult things, talking about climate change. The sheer scale of it, paralyses people. People think, it is much too big, there is nothing I can do, there is nothing even we can do with global coordination on the subject, which of course, we don’t even have at the moment. So, I would say, one of the most important messages to get across is that there are differences that can be made. There are differences in the level of pressure that people can put on their governments, and that governments can put on each other. There are relatively small scale but quite important improvements that can be made in methods of food production and so forth in poorer countries. There are measure we can take about our own carbon emissions just as individuals and as families. However uncertain the effects of this maybe, the urgency is undeniable and doing something is measurably better than doing nothing. There is a moral issue and not just a practical one; we need to behave better with our environment.
Nick Breeze: Why is tackling climate change a moral issue?
Rowan Williams: It is crystal clear to me that we are talking about moral issues here. We are not merely talking about how to make ourselves feel more comfortable. We are talking about what we owe to our fellow human beings. Given the scale of the threat, given the fact that it weighs most heavily on those least able to protect themselves, my inclinations is to say that if this question of whether carbon emissions is not a moral question then I do not know quite what is.
Nick Breeze: Will adapting to a sustainable world require a fundamental change in human nature?
Rowan Williams: When people talk about the need for a fundamental change in our nature, if we are going to change our habits in relation to the environment, my inclination is to say, well maybe we have got our nature wrong. What we need to be thinking about is what the natural role of humanity is in the globe as opposed to what we’ve made of it. I think the natural ting for humanity is to be better in tune with our environment that otherwise. Certainly better in tune that we are at the moment. So, I would say that any changes in behaviour and policy on this are becoming more natural, more human, not somehow feeding this myth that somehow the human race lives in a bubble protected from environmental crisis. So, yes, we need to think what kind of economy is more natural to us as human beings, rather than this supposition that endless exponential material growth is the only thing we have to look forward to. Now on the small scale on the local scale there are changes we can make. There are changes we can make in the way we approach agriculture, there are changes in the way we approach, questions about the use and repletion of soil, questions about appropriate use of natural pesticides, rather than chemical. All these things I’ve seen at work in developing countries on a small scale. They are very impressive and they need more resources and more promotion. How we tackle the problems of the global economy overall and the extraordinary and unreal system we seem to have got into, i find it very hard to imagine. I feel the question has to be asked and go on being asked.
Nick Breeze: National interests have been a big obstacle to international progress on achieving a sustainable future. What are your thoughts on this?
Rowan Williams: It’s understandable in way that many people are deeply wedded to ideals of national sovereignty which make it hard for them to hand over responsibility in some areas to national bodies, and yet, what we are so bad at catching up with in our own age is the number of problems that cannot be solved by national sovereign bodies one by one, or acting alone. And that is true, not just of the climate issues, it’s true of environmental issues more generally, its true of many health issues now. We do need better and more effective and robust international coordination and international monitoring with some teeth on these matters. This is one of the greatest challenges on these issues we have because a piecemeal approach is not quite going to cut it.
Interview with Nick Breeze from Autumn 2013
More posts by Nick Breeze
Obama joins launch of Porto Protocol initiative to tackle Climate Change
Addressing a wine industry on the frontline of climate change, Former President Obama said: “We are speeding our car towards the cliff at a very fast rate”. The audience and former president were invited to the launch of this new initiative by 326yr old port company CEO, Adrian Bridge, who is calling for solutions, saying “what we need to do is stop talking and start doing!” Nick Breeze reports.
UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) In Court Battle To Stop Public Protest - Green Party Co-Leader Addresses Crowd
A three day hearing at the High Court is in process that will decide whether an injunction be granted, effectively preventing any campaigning that might negatively impact the economic interests of UKOG and their associated companies.
Interview with Prof. Chris Rapley: The Climate Change Act, Antarctica & Political Pressure
The Climate Change Act 10 years on: does it matter? Is it fit for purpose? Are our politicians fit for purpose? Chris Rapley speaks candidly about our preparedness for an ever-rising tide of climate impacts that are already having a disastrous effect on nearly all regions of the world.
The weather we rely on for agriculture is only going to get worse
The jet stream is responsible for what kind of weather we experience and it’s behaviour is changing. Dr Jennifer Francis, a research professor at Rutgers University's Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, explains how a combination of factors are going to drastically impact agricultural systems in Europe and Eurasia.
It is easy to look at the fires in southern Europe and think that “global warming” is a regional problem often on someone else doorstep. This misconception could not be further from the truth because the “global” bit refers only to global mean temperature. As scientists start to look at what is happening around the world, it becomes very clear that the interconnected global system is changing for all.
Dr Saleemul Huq: “They are making profits by killing people, it is as simple as that… so tax them! Let’s put a Loss and Damage levy on them”
Dr. Saleemul Huq Director International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University, Bangladesh. In this short interview Dr Huq talks about his work and explains how those most vulnerable to the effects of manmade climate change are seeking recompense from the worlds greatest polluters.
Carmel McOuaid Director of Sustainability at Marks & Spencer, winners of Momentum for Change award in the Carbon Neutrality category
In 2014 Marks & Spencer became the only retailer in the world with carbon neutral operations. This huge undertaking across over 1400 stores has been rewarded with international recognition by the UNFCC winning Momentumn For Change award for carbon neutrality.