A Stern Warning To My Oil-Thirsty Generation

If we and our politicians take notice of The Stern Review on the economic consequences of not tacking global warming, then my generation will perhaps have to do more than most to change our oil-thirsty lifestyles.

We think nothing of embracing cheap air travel to see a different city every weekend. Our laptops, MP3 players, mobile phones, our convenience food and the clothes on our back are all tainted with thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions: the result of having travelled thousands of miles.

Several friends of mine have recently moved to the US. Half a dozen or so other people I know have moved to Australia. Most of my relatives and other people I know through work or business now take cheap air travel for granted.

This year I have travelled on four separate one-way cheap flights around the UK, two return flights to London, and in the last month I’ve been on two return flights to Jersey and Europe.

How can this continue?

Already not so much stepping onto, as stumbling vaguely in the direction of the first rung of the housing ladder, many of my peers despair at the size of their overdrafts and credit card debts, never mind the final demands for Council Tax if you’re unlucky enough to live in the UK.

Contrast this with our parents, many of whom have taken advantage of cheap air travel to buy second homes. Their home equity has grown phenomenally and fortunately for us, many of them have taken pity on us to either let us live at home or have helped us get onto the housing ladder.

How then do we reconcile the ever-increasing demands of my generation with the fact that our parents’ generation have left us a toxic legacy from the last few decades of unparalleled economic growth?

And how exactly are we supposed to earn a living by limiting everything we do whilst China, India, the US, and several of our European neighbours pay little or no heed to their rising CO2 emissions?

Are we meant to go backwards while they go forwards?

I am sure I speak for many of my generation when I say that I don’t want to leave my children the same toxic legacy that my parents left me. But if the doom and gloom is to be believed, then I will leave them something far worse.

Driving is something that I’ve never been keen on, but I’m reluctantly coming to the conclusion that next year I’ll seriously have to consider buying a car; something else to breathe out CO2.

And in order to progress with my writing and other work, I will need to travel abroad by plane and have goods delivered from overseas by air freight.

Climate change and its dire consequences will be a reflection of the worst aspect of ourselves. We want. We fight. We take. Or we want, we borrow and we buy.

Now we’re heavily overdrawn, we’re on borrowed time and the final demands are beginning to arrive.



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