Heat, by George Monbiot

by Ian Short

I had avoided reading this book, fearing it would depress me too much. Then E read it, so I thought I should too. It’s about a programme for reducing the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions to a level that may avoid some of the disasters of climate change. Monbiot believes that the targets can be met for all aspects of our comfortable lives except flying (and other means of long-distance, fast transport). Aviation produces so much pollution that we can’t meet our reduction targets with current levels of aviation (unless we sacrifice other more important aspects of our lives, like heating).

At least, this is what Monbiot thought when the book was written in 2005 (and updated 2007). The situation is much worse now, so maybe he isn’t so optimistic.

E and I don’t fly. Next we are going to work on our home energy consumption, to plug our leaky house. Then maybe switch to an eco-car (or no car? unlikely). And holiday in Bletchley.

Here’s a quote from the last chapter.

Similarly, when considering what might happen to people in my own country or in other parts of the rich world – in which the human impacts of global warming will be delayed both by our more forgiving climate and by the money we can spend on our protection – I have found the likely effects easy to catalogue but almost impossible to imagine. I can understand, intellectually, that life in this country might not be the same in thirty years’ time as it is today; that if climate change goes unchecked it could in fact be profoundly and catastrophically different. But somehow I have been unable to turn this knowledge into a recognition that my own life will alter. Like everyone who has been insulated from death, I have projected the future as repeated instances of the present. The world might change, but I will not.

I recognise my own feelings particularly in the last few sentences. Perhaps these are the reasons why we in the UK are doing so little about an issue of earth-shattering significance.