Incapability Huhne's Landscape Plan
...climate change is "the biggest issue facing the natural environment".
In South East England, beech trees could be badly affected. Pomegranates and olives could replace potatoes and onions. And the hedgehog could disappear from the South East in just 15 years time.
This isn't just about future risk either. It's already happening.
Spring comes sooner. Autumn lasts longer. Habitats are changing and species distribution is changing with it.
And earlier this year, researchers found that human greenhouse gas emissions may have roughly doubled the chances of the autumn 2000 floods.
We can now clearly link extreme events and their effects to the rise in man-made greenhouse gases.
We will have to make some difficult decisions.
There will be trade-offs. Because every energy resource has its plus points – and its drawbacks.
Onshore windfarms demand careful location and siting. Tidal stream and wave power are still in their infancy.
For biomass to make a meaningful contribution it will need to cover much of the countryside.
And once electricity has been generated, it must be transmitted. Again, there are no simple solutions. Whether you wish to see electricity carried above ground by pylons or buried within the earth in cables, there are environmental – and economic – consequences.
At the moment, there are no cost projections.
Because the reality is that the scale of the problem – and the potential solutions – means our landscape will change again, just as it did during previous industrial revolutions. It is inescapable.
At the moment we buy gas that is easily extracted. But under some scenarios, we could end up relying more on shale gas. If we choose to rely on imported energy, we run the risk of ignoring the embedded costs. Is it morally sustainable to simply outsource our energy impacts to another country?
Norfolk’s windmills, Kent’s oast houses and Westmoreland’s watermills are an integral part of our countryside. If we strike the right balance, perhaps the next generation of green energy will leave a similar legacy.
Our current energy system is costing the earth. That is why it is so important to get it right.
Think about the grand prize. Cleaner air. More affordable energy. Less risk of climate change. A greater degree of energy independence.
For the first time since the 18th century, we have a chance to return to a true sustainability.
Happy peasants trudging the fields as their betters romp in feather filled beds swapping wives and curing lesbians admiring their money making whirly-gigs out of their windows. What's not to like?