Three Cheers for President Medvedev

“None of us can say what the next summer will be like. The forecasts vary greatly. Everyone is talking about climate change now. Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past. This means that we need to change the way we work, change the methods we used in the past.”

How extraordinary to hear anyone, never mind a president, say that an ‘extreme weather event’ is a result of global warming. Three cheers for Russia’s President Medvedev for saying what everyone else is scared to say. Let’s hope to god he follows his words with strong actions which will push other countries into doing something about the accelerating catastrophes happening all over the world. We’ve all heard a thousand times that no single weather event can be tied down to global warming, and it’s right that scientists remain precise in their wording. But if the rest of us do the same then we will end up with extreme weather events piled one on top of the other, causing immeasurable misery to millions of people while we put on our best BBC accents and say, “But one must give a balanced view of the possibilities – this might just be a series of unconnected incidents. It would be foolhardy to do anything until we have 100% proof that it’s global warming causing it all.” Isn’t it time to call a spade a spade?

As well as Russia breaking its previous all-time record temperature five times in the last eleven days, we’ve seen a total of 17 countries break their all-time records, which is a record in itself, including Pakistan setting a new world record. Australia has had its longest drought in 120 years, Tennessee has had a one-in-a-thousand-year downpour, and just about every which way you turn there are more and more extreme weather events setting records of one kind or another. The last ten years have been the hottest ever recorded, this year is shaping up to be the hottest of the lot, and 20 of the hottest 21 years ever recorded have happened in the last 25 years. (Go to Joseph Romm’s wonderful Climate Progress website for more details )

Nevertheless, I don’t believe a single government, except maybe Russia, will do anything worthwhile. Overnight, developed countries should be slapping huge taxes on any business that continues to extract fossil fuels from the ground; it should be shouted from the rooftops that as of now ‘economic growth’ and ‘progress’ is going on hold for a few years, or better still permanently, while we sort out the mess we’ve made of the world. Take back all that obscene wealth that’s been flung at the banks, close them down and pour the money into localising economic activity, using the Grameen Bank as an example. Send all our students (and those in need of ‘re-education’, like bankers) back to the land with the aim of rebuilding our depleted soils. Teach them the methods of permaculture and small-scale mixed farming. Grow food for the local area before you think about trading with areas further afield. We’re at the point of total collapse and we need to respond as if we were entering a war. Everyone must turn their hand to the wheel, working to make their community as resilient as possible. If we don’t do something very drastic, such as I’ve mentioned, I think we will soon see that we are totally screwed. We’ll have left it too late. President Medvedev, your moment has come. Seize the day!

Don Latter


About transitionsl

I've been an English teacher for the best part of 30 years, teaching in England, Tanzania, Brunei, Australia and Hong Kong. I've always been interested in nature and environmental issues, but it was the discovery of Peak Oil about five years ago that galvanised me into trying to help my local community to prepare for what will be a dramatically different world to the one many of us have been used to. I've been helping to run a transition group, following the guidelines created by Rob Hopkins's Transition Movement in the UK. This blog is an attempt to engage in discussion with a wider group of people in Hong Kong on the ways to transition from our current oil dependency to a state of fossil-free local resilience.
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