End of the world vs the Strictly curse…

WHAT’S more important to our future: the Strictly curse or scientists making a final call on rising global temperatures? Oh, Strictly beats the planet’s last waltz by a mile, if the front-page headlines are to be believed.

An illicit embrace between partners on the BBC’s dance show garnered many headlines yesterday, followed by a fresh slew today. The Strictly curse, should you not be up to newspaper speed, is the supposed relationship-wrecking attraction that can arise between the show’s stars.

That frilly bit of betrayal won far more headlines yesterday than scientists issuing the most extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures. Only the Guardian and the i newspaper put the call from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on its front pages, although the BBC news led with the story.

A skim of today’s coverage of this important issue (the world potentially ending, not sequined snogs) runs from the Guardian declaring that the unstable climate presents an existential threat to the world, to the Spectator website complaining that the “climate change doomsday warnings are sure to backfire”.

The science is both clear and confusing: clear in that all respectable research suggests we have a problem; confusing in that naysayers are willing to sew doubt by picking holes in those findings. When one of those naysayers is the president of the US, you know we are in trouble.

That IPCC report charts the impacts of a 1.5C rise in warming and lays down the dangers of breaching that limit. Yet in the Guardian this morning, climate scientists warn that the IPCC report could be underplaying those risks by not paying enough attention to the tipping points that could see a “runaway spiral of climate change”.

It is all very confusing; yet can we really ignore the rising thrum of alarm coming over the horizon? The argument put forward by the Spectator suggests an obese person warned to lay off the cream cakes who wakes to greet another day with the thought “not dead yet” – and celebrates with a fry-up and double chocolate eclairs for elevenses.

Just because the worst hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean that it won’t.

The IPCC advises that keeping warming to 1.5C instead of two degrees reduces the impact of climate change in important ways. But even do that needs huge changes to the way we use energy, manage land and transport ourselves.

That requires international cooperation on a massive scale – something that is difficult when dealing with the Trumps of this threatened world. Much easier to say that climate change is all nonsense, fake news and a put-up job by the Chinese.

Should you be thinking, well, at least we’re not as bad as Trump, perhaps another thought should be slotted in.

Sure, we’re not as bad as Trump – hardly anyone is. But Britain has just jailed three environmental activists who took part in a peaceful demonstration at a fracking site in Lancashire. The sentences of between 15 and 16 months have been described as “excessive and extraordinary” by Mike Schwarz, a lawyer who has represented Greenpeace for more than 20 years.

Not only that, but the fracking site operated by shale gas company Cuadrilla is only in operation because the government overturned a decision by Lancashire county council. In conspiracy theory shorthand: one arm of the government imprisons peaceful protesters, while another over-turns local democracy to force fracking on an area.

All that at a time when we should be looking to greater use of green energy; not blasting and blowing through the earth to extract a short-term supply of gas.

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