Monday, February 23, 2009


Bad News, Good News, Bad News acccording to James Lovelock

Blimey! As if world financial meltdown were not enough, James Lovelock's latest book doesn't half pile on the agony. He was interviewed on Today this morning and gave Sarah Montague the benefit of his glimpses into the future. This is the man who created the notion of Gaia, the world as self regulating mechanism.

The Bad News This is that the world will become 'too hot for animals like us' with temperatures this century soaring by 5C higher by the end of it. Given that we've also 'trashed' the planet through deforestation and ripping up vegetation for farmland, he forecasts a vastly different and scary world. He foresees, together with the majority of the other world climate scientists, that the present population of nearly 7 billion will not be sustained. He thinks the population will sink to a mere 1 billion by 2100.

The Good News I was glad there is some good news though it is only 'ish'.

1. James is basically an optimist: 'Life will go on' and humans will adapt to survive. He thinks the world will 'stabilize' after the 5 degree rise anyway.

2. The UK is likely to be one of the better places to live as sea rises are unlikely to be more than 1-3 feet over this period and even this could be dealt with by Dutch style sea defences. Other 'safe' places will be Greenland and Siberia(oh great...)

Mind you, there will be problems with the UK's survival (should this go into the 'bad news' column?). People from the EU are likely to flood into the UK for refuge. He suggests we should now start to plan ahead with new infrastructure projects to help accommodate this influx.

Er, hang on James, run that by me again. So you think millions of EU residents are going to come flooding in and you assume we'll welcome them and adpat to higher numbers? I don't think so! I foresee us becoming a fortress in the burgeoning North Atlantic, repelling borders with the enthusiasm of the BNP government we might see in power in such a situation.

He's very sound on nuclear power, apparently he wants a cube of waste in his garden to help keep his house warm.

Study geology, it takes all the worry away when you start to think in millions of years...
With advances in geriatric medicine we might still be here in 2,100 AD Bill, but in 21,000 AD (sic) I'd wager we'll be dust.

James Lovelock is mad as a badger, in a good way, and pretty clearly there are technocratic solutions to many of the problems envisaged. I've not read the book but heard him on R5 and he seemed to be saying that Earth could become a "smart planet" and do better than survive.

Flood defences, yes. Also I'd wager different fuel sources e.g. hydrogen, different foods e.g. from sea or indeed wider tropical belts which are of course very fertile, and different ways of living.

We have the technology. And this is where Lomborgian thinking comes in. Concentrating on flood defences and adaptive technologies and indeed meta-climate technologies over the next 25 years will pay off.

And then of course we have the apparently out of step Corbynism that predicts cooling will be the thing to watch from 2030 or so ...

Keep watching the skies.
Have amended that typo. Thanks. You give me some comfort.
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