For once when I asked the government a written question I received an answer.
I asked?? <em>"How much carbon dioxide is put into the atmosphere each day ,and what proportion is from human sources"</em>
The answer stated "The amount of carbon dioxide emitted from human sources is small in comparison to natural flows:at around 3% emitted from the land and oceans to the atmosphere"
The Minister also told me "In 2004 the UK emitted approximately 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per day "(I think from human sources). This compares with?? the "25 billion tonnes emitted each year globally" from human sources and the total emissions of 800 billion tonnes from all sources.
It is just useful to understand the scope of the problem and the UK human component.?? According to the government the UK human component represents 2% of the world total human emissions, or 0.06% of total emissions.
So what should we conclude?
Climate change theorists point out that the human element may be very small, but it is the one which is growing quickly, and at the margin will do the damage. People who follow the precautionary principle say this theory may well be right, so we had better act. Many other people say they believe the theory but do not act – like the Prime Minister who tells us this is a serious crisis, but he has no intention of cutting his air miles.
Common sense suggests that because the UK represents such a small part of the problem, we are going to depend on decisions in India, China and the USA to make a bigger impact on human emissions. Of course our government should seek to influence them, and stress the value of greater fuel efficiency and stricter controls on emissions. We should also continue to cut our own fuel use at home, at work and on the move. Technology can be our ally in this.??Prudence??nonetheless dictates that we should take action now to proect ourselves against the possible bad consequences of??global warming.
There are two main bad consequences put forward for the UK. The first is a possible water shortage in the drier south and east of the country. The second is too much water in some rivers at flood time, and in the sea, leading to inundation.
Government should take action now to build stronger sea defences, especially close to the London conurbation where most people are at risk. This could be paid for by creating new land in the shallows of the Thames estuary, and selling this for development to finance the higher tidal surge barriers we will need.
The government and the water regulator should include a capacity target in the regulatory structure, to require the industry to put in more water capacity – whether by way of mending pipes more quickly or building extra reservoirs – to eliminate anyt possibility of water shortage. The Environment Agency should order works on our main rivers to guarantee better containment of flood water levels, or safe deposit of excess water on flood plain.