Tim Weber (BBC) has a report on the World Economic Forum which is going on right now in Davos, Switzerland.
It was not just celebrity that drew the audience, the topic was weighty as well – actually, it was a tad pretentious. Mr Gore and Bono promised to discuss a “unified earth theory: combining solutions to extreme poverty and the climate crisis”.
In other words: can we fight extreme poverty without raising global consumption to levels that totally wreck our world?
That’s two pretty awful things and we need to think of solutions to them both. Gore and Bono accused the media of being too selective.
â€œIf you were to say: 10 million kids are going to die because of climate change, youâ€™d read about this. Well, they are going to die next year, because of extreme poverty.â€
So what to do? Two immense problems require some tackling and it seems that the actions of two superstars will leave people thinking but not actually doing. I feel somewhat helpless and inadequate when I think of my contributions to fighting both climate change and poverty. My hands are already filled and I’ve not much more time for anything yet I feel I must.
Developing nations are just coming into their industrial revolutions even though they have some of the trappings of industry and the digital age. They’re starting to build the factories that we built half a century ago and producing fumes and pollution. And of course the response is that we need to give them room to grow – to develop their technology.
It’s been described as a bit rich to hold the developing nations to the same standards we now hold ourselves but I think now is a real opportunity to help them get to our level in terms of technological sophistry, without the burden of pollution. Scads of solar panels will fuel water pumps and purifiers, lighting and electric vehicles, long distance mesh networked communications devices. And this is how we should be tackling it.
And if I had a billion dollars, it’s how I would tackle it.
My excuses for doing the little I do are probably the same as most. I have a mortgage and a family to support. I want to be able to keep them warm and dry in this cold and wet climate. I want the children to be educated and informed and not held back in any way.
That’s the problem with knowing what is to be done and yet professing inability to do anything about it. “Green” technology has such a high cost of entry because it’s a boom business.
Going green, for instance with a wnd turbine or solar panel, can save you money but only if you have the money (and land and planning in the case of a turbine) to install it. What about better glazing and a more efficient modern heating system – but if people are paying exorbitant heating prices now due to inefficiencies then they’re hardly going to be able to afford to put in a new boiler with savings they don’t have and which could only be realised 10 years after the fact.
The biggest problem I have is that I don’t know what to do.