Last month there was much mirth and eye rolling courtesy of UKIP councillor David Silvester who wrote to David Cameron to inform him the recent UK flooding was God’s punishment for the coalition’s equal marriage legislation. Cue the @UkipWeather twitter account and its 111,000 followers, more than three times that of the party’s official account.
Despite being a Christian myself I don’t share Mr Silvester’s analysis. However I do wonder if another religious philosophy can be applied to the suffering of our fellow citizens: karma – the idea that our deeds, good or bad, will be returned back to us. A bit like the biblical concept of reaping what you sow.
Unlike many in Mr Silvester’s party I take my lead on the subject from the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who say that climate change is happening and is caused by human activity. As the IPCC has stated, a warmer world will be a wetter world with more extreme weather events. The UK can expect more rainfall while rising sea levels will cause greater devastation from storm surges and coastal flooding.
On Sunday the Met Office’s chief scientist Dame Julia Slingo said: “All the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change. There is no evidence to counter the basic premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly rain events.”
The deluge and misery brought down on the heads of those in parts of the UK has brought out the wellie-clad politicians to ponder aloud that maybe they should be doing something about this thing called climate change they’ve heard so much about.
The problem is before these floods the stories of climate change suffering have been from far-flung places like typhoon-battered Philippines or drought-ridden Africa. All very sad but apparently not much of a vote-winner if the, now ironically, self-titled Greenest Government Ever is anything to go by.
Despite climate change being driven by the fossil fuel burning of industrialised nations like our own we’ve not really done all that much about it. The IPCC has been making sobering scientific warnings since 1990 and we’ve heard the ever more desperate pleas from the likes of Yeb Sano, head of the Filipino delegation at November’s UN climate summit. We sat and twiddled our thumbs while the world burned and now we’re on the receiving end of years of inaction and we don’t like it.
Rather than accept that this might be a good time for the climate change deniers to come clean and drop their misguided rhetoric they’ve instead opted for a perverse double or quits. Instead of action on climate change UKIP leader Nigel Farage called for overseas aid spending (just over a penny in every pound) be taken away from the world’s poorest people and divert it to Somerset. Domestic matters like this are what the other 99 per cent of government spending is for, including the £12 billion of energy subsidies, much of which is spent on the fossil fuel industry.
They’re like the shamed prodigal son who has squandered his father’s inheritance but instead of repenting they are trying to steal their dutiful brother’s portion as well.
As in any crisis some politicians have been flailing about trying to point blame with the 20,000 Environment Agency staff getting it in the neck from Eric Pickles. Sadly the real cause is the wet stuff coming out of the sky at an unprecedented rate. Stopping that requires some serious action at a political level to restrict our fossil fuel burning and promote clean, renewable energy sources. And if we have our own house in order we can put pressure on others to do the same.
As former NASA climate scientist Professor James Hansen points out, we have got rich at the expense of those on the receiving end of climate change.
“Our parents honestly did not know that their actions could harm future generations. We, the current generation, can only pretend that we did not know,” he said.
If we really want to help our fellow Brits piecing their flooded homes back together, as well as preventing future victims both here and around the world, it’s time we learned our lesson and took action.
If Mr Farage doesn’t like the idea of karma how about Jesus’s command to love your neighbour as yourself.
What are your views on climate change? Just one of the questions in our threads survey of the beliefs, habits and practices of people in their 20s and 30s. We’d love you to fill it out before the end of February.