Calls for action are reaching a boiling point. COP26 aside, the closing months of 2021 – and of one momentously taxing period for the global population – have brought a renewed sense of urgency to the table, and an undeniable sense that the final curtain is preparing to draw itself across our hope for a healthier, safer future.
It comes as a stark warning after almost two years’ worth of disruptions, complications and setbacks: an impending increase as high as 30% to our household energy bills on the cards for millions across the country.
While the anticipated time of arrival for this price hike remains somewhat vague – many reports see the spring of 2022 on the horizon – it feels even more immediate in light of the fact that wholesale gas prices have already skyrocketed, and led to the immediate collapse of a number of smaller energy firms. The volatility is set to continue, with more energy suppliers at risk – and, of course, many more households being pushed to the edge by the devastatingly high cost of power and heat.
It has been little over a week since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its pivotal report on the true extent of global climate change. All at once, the panel’s findings were both predictable and shocking; a stark look at what we all knew was coming, and outcomes that seemed, for the past few years, to be far more remote than they really are.
Nuclear energy is no stranger to the ‘grey area’. On the one hand, it represents a statistical dream for those looking to marry sustainability with modern life; capable of maintaining a continuously high output more than capable of meeting the needs of thousands – all at a lower cost than coal or gas, and without any of the harmful consequences of carbon emissions – poses it as something of an ideal solution.
Any discussion on climate change – whether it takes place between world leaders, economists, activists or anyone else – boils down to CO2, and the various ways we can work to mitigate its production. The climate crisis is fuelled by many different factors and harmful emissions but, CO2 has rightfully taken a central role in both our concerns and, and our efforts.
There is a duality to Bill Gates’ writing; a core message to humanity, split into two sentences of equal importance, and, if ignored, equal consequence. The first is this: carry out the solutions we have found. The second: find what is missing. When practiced in tandem, these two separate clauses create an endless cycle of action and reflection, taking responsibility before learning what those responsibilities are – and, of course, why they are – before, of course, taking responsibility again.
Craig Foster’s ‘My Octopus Teacher’ is proof that beneath the amorphous and kaleidoscopic skin of the octopus, there is something more – a message that could not be more relevant to the vertiginous state of human life today. What sets it apart from other documentaries, however, is the ways in which it can appeal directly to the individual. Rather than bringing our position within the entirety of humankind into sharp relief, it plays to a different set of emotions we all possess – and in a much quieter, slower way than some of the epic and cinematic pieces we have written on in the past.
The global effort against climate change has been brought much closer to the forefront over the past few years, with new initiatives, grants, plans and proposals being put forth by governing bodies with increasing frequency.
In the UK, new measures as varied as the export tariff for those producing their own renewable energy, local efficiency incentives, the now-defunct Green Homes Grant, company and road tax benefits on electric cars, and new energy performance standards for the domestic construction sector comprise just a small part of the impetus driving both public and private sectors toward a more sustainable future.
For many years now, the UK has been preparing itself for an uphill battle against its own carbon footprint. From the individual household and the solitary car on the morning commute, to the transport, agricultural and manufacturing sectors, the country’s way of life has proven itself untenable as we struggle to steer ourselves away from a future of devastation, and every area of existence as we know it seems to represent a significant contributing factor.