Climate of Fear

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 13, 2007 | Go to article overview

Climate of Fear


Byline: By Sally Williams Western Mail

A recent survey showed fears about the environment topped a list of concerns held by primary school children. Are their fears shared by their seniors? Sally Williams talks to a more mature group in Wales who are working to save the planet for our grandchildren

EIGHTY-YEAR-OLD Sir David Attenborough says climate change is real and is happening now.

Veteran broadcaster Sir David said, 'If you take one moment in time, you can't be sure what the trend is.

'Now... when we look at the graphs of rising ocean temperatures, rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and so on, we know that they are climbing far more steeply than can be accounted for by the natural oscillation of the weather.'

The naturalist continued, 'What people do is to change their behaviour and their attitudes.

'If we do care about our grandchildren then we have to do something, and we have to demand that our governments do something.'

MODEL Silka Casey, 56, who lives in Cardiff, admits that she didn't really take climate change too seriously until her husband, Terry, 69, converted her to the green way of thinking.

She said, 'I absolutely think we can make a difference to climate change by saving energy in our homes.

'My husband has been talking about the importance of not leaving the television on standby or the lights on when not needed for about 10 years.

'He would make a joke out of it, saying, 'who pays the bills?'

'But I have only really taken the issue on board in the past two years.

'I am now concerned about our use of cars and how using gas guzzlers can add to the problem.

'I think we need better transport in our cities - it is the top priority in my mind.'

But Silka thinks other countries need to commit to tackling climate change too, if the human race is to have any impact on the problem.

Although she doesn't have any children, she is worried about the legacy that her generation might be leaving for her nieces and nephews.

'I worry about the animals that we might lose because they are losing their habitats.'

A WELSH expert warns climate change is happening faster than previously imagined.

Sir John Houghton, 74, who worked on the International Panel of Climate Change and is a former head of the Met Office, has spent decades studying the world's climate.

Born in Rhyl and now living in Aberdovey, Gwynedd, he first got involved in climate change working as a professor of physics at Oxford University, observing earth from space.

His work was revolutionised by the introduction of satellites that allowed scientists to view the whole world.

He first realised mankind was having a substantial impact on our climate during the early 1980s.

He explains, 'The Met Office in the 1980s had a good climate research unit and the biggest computer complex in Europe to compute the weather- it was very exciting.

'1988 was an important year, when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - a scientist herself - gave a speech at the Royal Society and talked about the dangers of global warming for the first time.

'Then came the first meeting of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

'As chairman of the scientific assessment, I tried to involve all the people in the world we could find and we produced several reports throughout the 1990s.

'Mrs Thatcher invited me to Downing Street to present one report to her Cabinet in 1990 - it was the first time anyone there had used an overhead projector!

'She was very interested and gave it political clout.

'In 1992 all the countries of the world went to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, to sign a convention on climate change, promising to take action to cut greenhouse gases.

'And out of that came the Kyoto Protocol, when nations agreed how much to cut emissions - but the United States didn't join. …

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