400 ppm! We Didn't Listen!

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So, it has finally happened. The tipping point. Now, whatever Prince Charles may claim, it is too late to do anything. We are doomed, totally doomed. We had our chance to save the world from the greatest peril it has ever known and we blew it.

If only we had listened to the experts, eh?

As an example of the kind of expert expertise I mean, I have sitting on my desk a copy of a book called Six Degrees: Our Future On A Hotter Planet by an expert environmental expert called Mark Lynas.

What I thought we could all do, in what few moments we have left on planet earth, is to re-read some of Mark Lynas’s wise words, even as we reflect on our selfishness and greed and refusal to change our lifestyle.

Here, if only we’d listened, is how it could have been:

Just as people were better off and healthier in Britain under food rationing during the Second World War, so most of us would see a dramatic improvement in our quality of life if ‘carbon rationing’ were introduced by the government. Such a scheme need not be technically complex or difficult to introduce: people could simply trade carbon as a parallel virtual currency, swiping their carbon cards at the petrol pump and surrendering the requisite amount of carbon ration when buying flights or paying their electricity bill.

Yes, Mark, yes! But why stop there? Why not have some sort of branding system so that excess carbon users could be marked as the pariahs they deserve to be? How about a yellow star, stitched to their clothes, or some such? But sorry – I interrupt. Do go on….

Although carbon permits should be tradeable in the interests of flexibility, conspicuous carbon consumption by celebrities would largely be eliminated. Instead social pressure would reverse, with people happy to make changes in the knowledge that everyone else is doing likewise.

What, Mark, the Chinese too?

As traffic ceased, young children could play football in the streets again.

Great idea. And how about a free baby unicorn for every family, paid for out of special supertax on rich, carbon-guzzling banker types?

In constraining carbon through rationing, we might soon find that we were building a different sort of society, one emphasising quality of life before the raw statistics of economic growth and relentless consumerism.

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