The World Environmental situation
Global warming is changing more than the climate
The climate is changing, and there is now a very high confidence by an overwhelming majority of scientists that human activity is a significant part of that change. The global atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased markedly since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values. Much of this is due to fossil fuel use, changes in land use, and agriculture.
The effects of global warming are increasingly well known. Changing weather patterns such as hurricanes and floods; the melting of the glaciers; the softening of the permafrost; the melting of the polar ice-caps and the ice on Greenland; more intense and frequent heatwaves; the growth of the deserts and consequent likelihood of famine in some areas; the rise in sea levels; the death of the coral reefs. Countries like the Maldives and Bangladesh may disappear under water. There will be a huge movement of migrants from these countries to more habitable parts of the world.
Climate change is real, is growing, and has potentially very dangerous consequences for the well being of the planet and for human life - and the people most affected will be in the poorest and most disadvantaged parts of the world. There is therefore a strong moral imperative to do all we can to avert the danger, reduce the likelihood of global warming continuing at the present rate, and prepare for its likely consequences. There is a moral obligation also on the present generation not to do things which will significantly damage the planet's capacity to provide a home for our children and grandchildren. There is a further moral obligation to live within our means. At present rates of energy use and consumption in Britain, we need about three planet earths to sustain our current way of life.
But global warming is changing more than the climate.