Following the recent warning/update from the United Nations, the most poignant impact to me was not what was in the report but the relative vacuum of press and political spin through the following week in response!
On reflection – I was thinking that it must be around 40 years ago that I was first introduced to the science (and likely impacts) of climate change by climate scientist Jim Lovelock in his Devon cottage. I also know that not long after he also presented his findings to the new UK Thatcher government – and so the recent United Nations report and relative inaction of the last 40 years can only ring alarm bells to me – or at least raise questions relating more to governments and world governing/influencing bodies than the actual report – albeit that the report itself is probably 20 years overdue.
It seems to me that the reality of the present situation is also affected by the fact that governments, corporations, scientific communities and also the public ‘have’ and ‘can’ remain passive whilst there exists a perpetual excuse in ‘requiring more data’. A new wave of lunacy is now wrapped up in this 21st century ‘data rush’ and on the face of it, appears a safe bet for those demanding and investing in the process and technology, because like with the ‘education, education, education’ mandate of the UK’s Tony Blair administration of the late 90’s, it is difficult to argue without appearing either out of touch or misguided.
However, what we are witnessing with climate change education and data collection is the exponential rise in ‘talking shop’ politics and economics whereby the focus of activity is towards the luxury of ‘better understanding’ the problem rather than accepting there is a problem and dealing with it meaningfully.
All the data and apps, of course, are all feeding ‘into’ and ‘off’ the ‘Internet of things’ (IOT) and tech platforms and businesses and so the economics and validations are also supported by the tech giants in a similar way to the ‘dot com’ bubble of the late 90’s. I am not suggesting that there is no value in data based controls but it seems that the world has latched on (being fed) the idea that the IOT will solve all our problems, when in reality we remain in a world where most our primary transport and energy is propelled with 150 year old technology and even the aircraft engine technology is nearly 90 years old and simply fitting data controls to this only makes it marginally more efficient – although the fitting of LCD screens on the dashboards and seats seems to fool most people to believing it is all high tech!
In fact it was not many weeks ago that Bill Gates announced his new ‘cloud storage’ system trials that are being submerged off the Scottish coast in an effort to keep them cool. With respect to global warming, I fail to see how applying heat to the marine environment is going to help – but the point is that the media message should have been ‘how much energy is required in the exponential gathering and storage of all this data’? Surely the real answer is to both control the amount of data storage we use and develop much more efficient electronic systems.
Not long before the United Nations report was released, David Attenborough gave some comforting words with respect to the Paris climate accord and how this could potentially ease or reverse current climate impacts. Now obviously as a media icon, David understands the power of the media and has been prolific and distinguished in demonstrating how it can be used to educate and enlighten millions of people – to which we all owe him tremendous gratitude. However, whilst I understand the ability of people to absorb and discuss media outputs, I am less optimistic regarding the ability of us all to unite in the process of meaningful change – especially when it is dependant on governments and corporations to ‘organise the rally’.
In the same way as PR spin doctors have manipulated government/corporate messages and public perceptions, there is also some reason to believe that successful spin may also convince the ‘spinners’ and those in the media industry themselves of those messages and abilities to enact change, whereas those of us more sceptical people outside may be less convinced.
My own personal message therefore to anybody reading this, is to accept that governments and corporations are increasingly inept at change – and to better value personal input – because even another 10 years of collecting and analysing data and commissioning academic reports will be too late to respond proportionately to the problem – even if we get the correct answers – which is also far from guaranteed!
At Water Powered Technologies we provide ‘real’ products and solutions based on logical assessment of the actual problems. We are not interested in accumulating or selling data, producing never ending consultation documents or attending numerous ‘talking shop’ events.
We understand that the intelligent utilisation of water resources can deliver benefits to people, businesses, governments and the environment globally and we are keen to discuss these opportunities with potential customers and partners that have a proactive approach and synergy towards implementing our sustainable water and energy solutions.
by Phil Selwyn – Technical Director of Water Powered Technologies