23 Jan HRH co-authors new Ladybird book ‘Climate Change’
H.R.H. The Prince of Wales has co-authored a book warning on the challenges of climate changes and possible solutions to the issues faced.
The book is the first in a new series of Ladybird Expert Books on a range of subjects from the worlds of science, history and culture.
The book ‘Climate Change’, co-authored by Tony Juniper and Emily Shuckburgh, includes a structure of: What is happening? Why is it happening? and What can we do about it?
In H.R.H’s introduction, He hopes ‘this modest attempt to alert a global public to the “wolf at the door” will make some small contribution towards encouraging requisite action that must be urgently scaled up, and scaled up now.’
The book is due to be released on 26 January 2017.
Below is an extract from an article H.R.H provided exclusively for The Daily Mail. The full article can be viewed by clicking here.
You can also view the exclusive interview H.R.H conducted with Skynews below.
One of the most terrible events that can befall any home or community is to be flooded. Muddy river water ravages lives within minutes. I’ve seen the effects at first hand and know very well that it can take months, if not years, for even the most resilient to recover.
The devastation caused by flooding is heart-breaking and leads naturally to discussion of what might be causing such an increase in these exceptionally intense downpours. Can it really be true that human activities are changing the climate of our entire planet? And, if they are, can we afford to try to solve whatever the problems may be, especially when there is so much else to be concerned about?
I know that those questions, and others, are in many people’s minds whenever climate change is mentioned. The iconic photographs from space show our blue and green planet looking so serene that it’s hard to imagine anything too serious is happening. There is also an inevitable fatigue caused by endless technical arguments, full of jargon, which prompts an overwhelming temptation to switch off or look away.
However, I think the situation is so serious that we cannot look away or stick our heads into the sand. It is now essential for those of us who are alarmed about climate change to set out simply and clearly the science of what we are seeing, why it concerns us so much and what we think can be done about it.
Sound science has always underpinned human progress, providing the evidence that has transformed medicine, transport, communications, food production and most other aspects of our existence. Whether we like all those changes is another matter, but it is hard to reject the facts, on the basis of the evidence.
So while continuing to ask searching questions, which is at the heart of all good scientific methods, it would seem sensible to take the same approach to climate change and focus on looking hard at the accumulated evidence, rather than regarding it as something that is somehow a matter of opinion. The questions people ask about climate change often start with ‘Isn’t it just weather?’ and ‘Hasn’t the climate always changed?’
Well, it is true that natural factors, including changes to the strength of the Sun, the impact of volcanic eruptions and natural cycles, such as the El Nino interactions between the Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere, can all influence temperature fluctuations. But careful assessment of the evidence shows that the primary cause of the global warming recorded in recent decades is the increase in carbon dioxide and other pollution being released from power stations, industry, cars, planes, farms and the clearance of forests.
Since 1850, there has been a 20-fold increase in the global use of energy. Most of it has come from burning coal, oil and gas, which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This increase is clearly recorded in the samples of ancient air trapped in the Antarctic ice cap. Ice core samples taken by the British Antarctic Survey and others reveal beyond doubt that atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels have increased dramatically over the past 150 years and are now higher than at any time in at least 800,000 years.
This increase in carbon dioxide and other warming gases, such as methane, is changing our climate and leading to a growing number of alarming changes in the natural world. Photographic records reveal the retreat of glaciers, seriously threatening future water supplies for much of South Asia; data from satellites chart the demise of Arctic sea ice; coral reefs are dying in seas that have become too warm; and numerous weather records are being broken around the world.
Climate change has heightened the risk of flooding in some areas of the world and of drought in others. It is leading to a decline in some wildlife species, threatens food and water supplies and can be a contributing factor for the migration of people. These effects can in turn exacerbate political tensions and help fuel conflict.
There has, of course, been an alleged ‘pause’ in the warming. Why cut pollution when warming seems to have stopped, some ask? The answer is simple enough: there isn’t a pause. The first decade of this century was the warmest measured in records stretching back to 1850. This decade is on course to be warmer still. Last year, 2016, was the warmest ever recorded. The second-warmest year was 2015 and the third-warmest 2014.
Even in the face of all the evidence, some still ask how carbon dioxide, a gas that we can neither see nor smell and that is essential for life on Earth, could possibly cause so much damage, especially in a sky that seems so boundless and huge as to be immune to anything we might do to it? In fact, our planet’s atmosphere is in relative terms no thicker than the skin on an apple and into that fragile envelope we are loading more and more heat-trapping gases.
The continuing confusion about what the science of climate change actually says, and the fact that positive solutions to it are now at hand, led me to help write a little ‘plain English’ book on the subject, covering the scientific facts, why we must urgently act upon those and why doing so would actually be a very good thing. It will be published later this week by Ladybird Books in their new Expert Guide series and I hope will be of interest to some of the many people who remain uncertain or, indeed, unaware of the inescapable facts. As long ago as 1970, for instance, I remember making a speech on conservation in which I mentioned that ‘there can be few people who have not heard of “conservation” or “pollution” or “environment”, or of such horrifying terms as “ecology” and “the biosphere”. But do they always know what they mean?’ Clearly, not always, even now. Hence this little book!
We might also be more inclined to think about the longer term if we were more aware of what is happening around us. Perhaps daily weather forecasts could include a few basic facts about the Earth’s vital signs, or details of where climate change is increasing the likelihood of damaging weather? Even facts such as the Thames Barrier having to be closed 41 times in 2013/14 to prevent flooding, compared to a total of 46 times in the previous 30 years, help to paint a picture of the changes taking place around us. Some people who accept that these changes are happening then go on to argue that acting to cut emissions is unwarranted because of the economic harm they claim will result. Why cut pollution when it could undermine jobs and competitiveness, they ask? Yet acting now is a far cheaper option than picking up the pieces later.
A rapid shift to clean energy is getting under way. Right across the world the expansion of renewable energy technologies is supplying ever-greater quantities of clean power and at falling cost. This is creating jobs and reducing reliance on imported fossil fuels.
Take Hull, for example, where billions of pounds of investment is being attracted and thousands of jobs generated on the back of world-leading offshore wind power development. The growth in the capacity of that technology has during the past 12 months helped the UK to derive more than a fifth of its electricity from clean renewable sources. Even in our cloudy islands, the electricity generated from solar power now exceeds that coming from coal.
New clean-tech industries are beginning to thrive. Major manufacturers are launching electric cars with new batteries, just one of many innovations as the transport sector looks beyond diesel and petrol. China, which has suffered more than most from pollution in its fast-growing cities, is now providing strong leadership and showing just how fast technological transformation can be achieved.
We have an historic opportunity to put the world on to a better path, one that is more secure and sustainable, with opportunities that include not only seizing the benefits of new clean technologies, but also big, quick and very cost-effective wins in forestry and farming.
Strengthening efforts to conserve and restore forests, including the tropical rainforests that are so rich in wildlife and biological diversity, and which store carbon naturally, would not only help tackle climate change but also improve water security, lessen the effects of extreme weather and build the foundations for wildlife tourism.
Multiple benefits can also be achieved through farming in more intelligent ways that benefit Nature and the environment. Agro-ecological farming sustains and improves the soil that produces our food, while also using that soil to help tackle climate change. The key to this lies in increasing the carbon stored in the soil, and that would otherwise be in the atmosphere, through replacing lost organic matter.
Whether in relation to energy, farming or forests, it seems to me that at the heart of our response to the perils posed by rapid climate change must be a more sensible approach toward economics. The simple and unavoidable truth is that our human economies cannot indefinitely operate in isolation from the wider economy of Nature. Our present system is incredibly wasteful. We take resources, make products, use them and often dispose of waste to the land, the atmosphere and the oceans, without recapturing the resources we used to make the things we need in the first place.
This not only depletes the Earth’s limited resources, but also uses up energy and leads to higher pollution than if we did things in more natural, circular ways. By harnessing new technologies, designing products differently and planning for a zero-waste future, we could create a ‘circular economy’, in place of the ‘throw-away’ economy that so vastly contributes to climate change.
It is perfectly natural to be attached to what we know has worked in the past, and sometimes difficult to see beyond it. But the inescapable truth is that future generations will have to live with the consequences of the choices we make now.
Those choices are simple: we can take the scientific evidence and act accordingly, or we can find ways to remain unconvinced that robust and immediate action is necessary. The problem with the latter choice is that we will continue to test our world to destruction until we finally have the ‘evidence’ to show that its viability and habitability have been destroyed. And by the time we come to our senses, it is likely be too late to do anything about it. The price for such a monumental failure of judgment on our part would be paid by our children and grandchildren, all of whom will know that Humpty Dumpty couldn’t be put back together again.
H.R.H The Prince of Wales, released by The Daily Mail, 22 January 2017.