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About A Week: Are We Ruining Our World?

Peter Hinchliffe is disturbed to hear that the majority of UK citizens are not convinced humans cause global warming.

The majority of Britons do not believe that their actions are causing global warming.

Many think that scientists are exaggerating the problem.

In a survey carried out for the national Sunday newspaper The Observer top pollsters found that only a small minority felt that it was necessary to make radical and significant changes to the way they live, such ad driving and flying less.

The poll found that six out of 10 agreed with the statement that “many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change’’. Four out of 10 thought that climate change might not be as bad as people are saying.

Surprisingly more people in the US seem to be willing to accept that they are contributing to climate change. A FOX News poll found that 41 per cent said people are to blame for atmospheric changes. Another 38 per cent thought that changes were resulting from a combination of human action and normal climate cycles. Only 14 per cent thought that current global warming is an entirely natural occurrence.

The UK Labour Government two days ago rolled out a 100 billion pound ($200 billion) plan to boost supplies of “green’’ energy.

Thousands of wind turbines will be built in all parts of the country over the next decade. The target is to produce 15% per cent of the UK’s energy supplies from “green’’ sources by 2020.

An extra 4,000 onshore and 3,000 offshore turbines will be needed.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown wants the UK to become a leader in renewable energy. He has called for a national debate on how best to achieve the 15 per cent target.

"The North Sea has now passed its peak of oil and gas supply, but it will now embark on a new transformation into the global centre of the offshore wind industry,’’ said Mr Brown.

Last year the Prime Minister said the world could not afford to wait before tackling climate change. A report which he commissioned said that immediate action would cost just 1% of global gross domestic product. If no action is taken the global economy could shrink by 20%.

The report said that without action, up to 200 million people could become refugees as their homes are hit by drought or flood.

"In the 20th century our national economic ambitions were the twin objectives of achieving stable economic growth and full employment," Mr Brown said.

“Now in the 21st century our new objectives are clear, they are threefold: growth, full employment and environmental care....

"And then there is the greatest opportunity of all, the prize of securing and safeguarding the planet for our generations to come."

Britain, like most other countries, is now feeling the cold economic drafts arising from soaring oil prices and rising food costs. British motorists are now paying 1.20 pounds ($2.40) for a litre of unleaded petrol.

Cynics were quick to note that Prime Minister Brown, despite his loudly proclaimed green credentials, was one of the first heads of state to bleat about the high cost of oil. He is of the opinion that an increased supply of oil will lead to a steadying of its price. To this end he reached a deal with Saudi Arabia which could lead to an increase in oil production of some 500,000 barrels a day.

In fairness to Mr Brown it must be recorded that he also plans to work with Saudi Arabia on technology to capture carbon emissions from energy plants and with the United Arab Emirates on nuclear technology.

Mr Brown’s predecessor as Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said that the consequences of not tackling global warming would be disastrous.

"This disaster is not set to happen in some science fiction future many years ahead, but in our lifetime," he said.

The current fuel crisis is being welcomed with delight by some green campaigners. People do seem to be using their cars less. This morning I travelled down part of the M1 motorway, England’s main north-south highway, and traffic was much lighter than usual.

Sales of bicycles are on the increase and more are travelling by bus.

As the economy drifts downwards some older Britons are remembering the harsh times of 50 and 60 years ago, when foodstuffs and many other goods were rationed.

Younger folk accustomed to well-stocked supermarkets are shocked to hear that the standard weekly rations per person during the Second World War and for some years afterwards included:

4 ounces (113 grams) bacon or ham

3 pints of milk

2 ounces of butter

2 ounces of tea

1 egg

2 ounces of jam

3 ounces of sugar

1 ounce of cheese

3 ounces of sweets (candy)

Ration books allocated 66 “points’’ per year to each person for clothing. That was cut as the war progressed to 48 points, then 36. It took 2 points for a pair of knickers, 5 points for a man's shirt, 5 points for a pair of shoes, 7 points for a dress and 26 points for a man's suit.

And no-one in the 1940s was moaning about soaring oil prices.

They could not afford to buy and run a car.

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