- Go for a run if wake up in time and not raining
- Go to cities lecture (NB leave house at 08:50 this time, not 08:55)
- Write to Granny
- Buy stamps
- Write up the sedimentology project (get notes off Daisy) – think of title
- My turn to cook – risotto? Need to buy mushrooms
- Book train to Poznan
- Phone Alice
- Hallowe’en – pumpkin? Costume? Party?
- Think about how best to SAVE THE WORLD (might need a bit of help on this one)
I’m a student. I’m used to deadlines. They seem to have grown more malleable throughout my academic career. Yesterday morning I handed in an essay two minutes late for a deadline that I’d already re-negotiated to be extended for two days. Douglas Adams famously said “I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
Today, though, I heard about a deadline that cannot be pushed around, nor joked about. A group of us from the UK Poznan youth team were given a presentation by a guy called David Wasdell, a scientist who’s been a reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose reports inform the policy-makers at Poznan.
Here’s the gist of what he told us:
- In the past three years or so, our understanding of climate change has shifted up a gear. We now know that the Earth’s climate system involves positive feedback mechanisms that accelerate the speed at which global temperatures are changing.
- This new knowledge is not contained in the IPCC’s latest report (2007), due to the slow filtering process between scientists and policy-makers
- This means the negotiations that will take place in Poznan this December will be based on out-of-date science – the situation is worse than the policy-makers are officially aware of
- Jim Hansen, a NASA scientist, reckons the opportunity we’ve got to control climate change is 5 to 15 years
- Poznan 2008 and Copenhagen 2009 are therefore crucial, given the snailpace at which international diplomacy moves – it’s like supertanker politics
I’m glad we’re doing something about this. We have this window of opportunity still open to us.
It’s not fun missing deadlines – but it’s very satisfying when you type and type all day and then email it to yourself and then rush to the computer room and print it out and then jump on your bike and pedal as fast as you can, taking short-cuts the wrong way down one-way streets to the Geog department and then, panting and flush-faced, triumphantly stick it in the appropriate pidgeon hole with an entire four minutes to spare.
That’s pretty much what the UNFCCC have to do between now and the summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. I hope everyone’s got their tyres pumped up.
I was going to write a bit about what the UK youth delegation is about – and I will do that in a bit – but I got so excited about this that I changed my mind:
Tomorrow, the UK government will announce it’s going to include emissions from aviation and shipping in Britain’s new climate change bill, due to become law next month.
Ed Miliband, the energy and climate secretary, has already agreed to set the UK’s emissions reduction target at 80% by 2050, rather than 60% as it was going to be previously. However, until today this wasn’t set to include emissions from aviation and shipping, which are estimated to account for 7.6% of UK emissions and are rapidly increasing. Now, with these included in the Climate Bill, there’s a real incentive for the industry to develop more efficient plane engines – or, more importantly, for people to assess the way they travel and think about lower-carbon options.
There’s 15 of us going to Poznan in December for the UN’s next Climate Change Conference and we’re all going by train (except one guy who might be hitch-hiking!) because there’s a much lower climate impact – and it’d be kind of ironic to fill the stratosphere with greenhouse gases on our way to convince global leaders to commit to emitting less (a bit like a load of Cambridge geographers flying to Arolla to measure melting glaciers… but I’ll come to that another time). I couldn’t find a comparison of train/plane emissions from London to Poznan, but here’s some figures about the carbon cost of getting to Barcelona, which is (very) roughly the same distance:
A flight from London to Barcelona emits 227kg/CO2 per person. The train journey emits only 40kg/CO2 per person (from Seat61.com, a great site with loads of info on how to travel by train and boat “from the UK to Europe and beyond”). That’s less than a fifth of the emissions from flying. Plus, there’s none of that bother with waiting around for hours in airports – you get on the train and go.
This does make you wonder whether people in different government departments ever talk to each other, though. Someone from the Department of Energy and Climate Change should tell the Department of Transport it might not be a good idea to expand Stansted Airport while the government’s got a target of reducing emissions.
I think this blog’s title needs a bit of explaining.
My name is Amy Mount. My sister’s initial is also “A”, so we’re always opening each other’s post. She’s younger and taller than me, so of the two A Mounts, I’m the smaller.
So that’s the pun bit (thanks to my English-studying housemates).
But the title works on other levels too. For example, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could emit just a small amount of carbon dioxide per person? Or use just a small amount of the world’s resources each, seeing as there are 6.6 billion of us who need to share them? But use those resources in a creative and productive way? Studies of “happiness” suggested that as national incomes rise, people tend to get happier, but only up to a point. After average income rises above $15,000 per person per year, there’s no corresponding rise in “happiness”. So may be we don’t need to consume large amounts of stuff in order to feel content.
Each of us can feel pretty small when faced with BIG issues such as climate change. I was frustratedly trying to explain to a friend how I can’t seem to fit all the intertwined problems of the world into my head, let alone think about finding a solution to them. But he pointed out that was a pretty ambitious task to set myself, and that something humans are quite good at is sitting down together and talking things over, and sometimes we generate ideas that are bigger than the sum of the little ideas that each person has. So the small amount of thoughts I have might contribute to something bigger.