Climate Change: Protecting the planet

When future historians look back at the close of the second millennium, many things may intrigue them. They might be particularly bewildered about why the public, political and intellectual elites paid so little serious attention to the changing planet. And why the superpower that had so much to say about the mechanism for doing something went cold on its own deal.

The World Today Updated 27 October 2020 Published 1 May 2000 6 minute READ

Professor Michael Grubb

Professor of International Energy and Climate Change Policy, Institute of Sustainable Resources, University College London

Let’s be clear that we are talking about a potentially awesome issue. On the one hand, emissions from human activities are interfering in two of the most fundamental driving forces of the natural planet: the heat balance of the atmosphere, with its basic patterns of climate, rainfall and ice cover; and the carbon cycle that is intrinsic to global ecosystems.

Of course there are big uncertainties: we don’t understand the consequences of what we are doing. That is hardly comforting; and the omens, including the accelerated break-up of Antarctic ice shelves, the extreme weather events of the 1990s and question marks over the stability of the Atlantic circulation patterns, can only reinforce concern.

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