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George Clarke takes a scary look at the future

I’m sitting writing this in my shorts. Nothing else, just my shorts.

Why am I sharing this awful vision with you? Because its hot. Very hot. I’m sitting at my desk at home in England and the temperature is 30 degrees. It’s been like this for days.

But, this isn’t just a random spike in temperatures for the UK. The entire planet experienced its hottest June ever on record, followed by the hottest July on record, breaking previous records by huge margins.

So many countries have been scorched and blistered by the frightening effects of global warming.

And for any climate-change deniers out there this excessive heat is ABSOLUTELY caused by global warming and the negative impact our way of life is having on our incredibly unique planet.

We have not stopped burning fossil fuels so the planet is literally burning up.

Mankind thinks we can handle whatever is thrown at us. I think the complete opposite

George Clarke George Clarke Architect, writer, TV presenter and Ecodan Ambassador

We know this is wrong

What is really, really, REALLY stupid is we know exactly what we are doing, we know this is going to have a terrible effect on the human race and may even threaten our existence, yet we still carry on doing it regardless of how bad things might be in our near future.

And what is EVEN MORE STUPID is we know what we need to do to turn things around to limit or prevent global warming, yet we choose NOT TO DO these things at scale or at a fast enough pace.

Why? Because people say we cannot afford to do it.

WHAT? REALLY? We cannot afford to stop destroying the planet and avoid the horrific suffering of billions of people? Are we really comfortable with that view and that approach?

Warning signs for all

Data from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), showed that August was about 1.5C warmer than the preindustrial average for 1850 to 1900.

It has had a frightening effect on the planet this summer with heatwaves, fires and floods hitting so many countries.

These are not only terrible tragedies that destroy towns, villages, lives and livelihoods, but they are warning signs to us all.

The extreme heatwaves that impacted most of Europe and North America are said to have been 2.0-2.5C hotter because of climate change.

These worrying changes are not only having a detrimental effect on land, but at sea too. Our seas and oceans have been especially hot in recent months. This is affecting marine life, it is accelerating the melting of ice caps and will cause sea levels to rise at a faster rate than predicted.

A dangerous arrogance

What makes me so angry is there is an arrogance about the human race that I find staggeringly dangerous.

We think we are strong and powerful and in control of the planet and that we know exactly what we are doing. We think we can handle whatever is thrown at us.

I think the complete opposite. I don’t think we are strong at all.

The global covid pandemic showed just how vulnerable, weak, and fragile we are. Just one virus wreaked absolute havoc on the entire globe and brought planet earth to a virtual standstill.

Hardly anyone knew what to do about it when it first broke and there was fear and panic in every country. That was just one virus. Imagine how the arrogant, over-confident and greedy human race will react when Mother Nature rises up and absolutely punishes us for wrecking the planet.

We’ll be pathetically sobbing for forgiveness and wishing we had listened to those who warned us, but it will be too late.

Mother Nature can be extremely beautiful, but she can be extremely brutal too and we don’t stand a chance in any fight with her. We are overcooking Planet Earth, our collective home, and I worry that is going to come at a severe cost.

Start at home

It’s interesting to talk about ‘home’ at this point.

Yes, Planet Earth is our collective home we all share together, but sometimes it’s hard for us to really see and understand the effects of climate change on our shared home, because so many of the awful disasters that occur are happening far away from where we live.

Unless you experience a flood, a hurricane, or a major forest fire first hand it’s hard to fully understand just how devastating and horrific they can be.

Yes, we see them on tv, but sometimes we are still so detached from the reality of events, it can often feel like we are watching a disaster movie.

So, let’s think differently and literally bring it all home.

Let’s take all of the bad things we are doing to the planet and apply them to our individual home.

Condense all of that awful damaging stuff we are doing to our collective home and imagine most of them being imposed on your own humble home.

Try to think what that might look like.

I don’t mean to scare you, but I’m sitting here in my own home imagining what my ‘climate-changed house’ would look like in a ‘climate-changed street’ and it absolutely frightens the life out of me.

Fire and floods

So, this is what home might look like unless we reverse the effects of climate change and tackle the climate emergency.

My home often floods on the ground floor and I’m often up to my waist in water. Putting up water defences during the storms takes up a lot of time. I’m relieved when the water levels recede. But I know they’ll be back.

When the searingly heat kicks in, everything dries out to the point where my once damp floors and walls begin to crack and become structurally unstable. My home can’t handle the extremes.

All my beautiful plants and trees in my garden have been dead for some time now. I can’t remember if they drowned in the floods or were devastated by the heat.  All the trees on my street are dead too. I loved seeing trees, but they are scarce now.

The air in my house is thick with pollution to the point where some days it’s a struggle to breathe. What were once menial tasks are now a physical struggle because the air quality is so bad. Your eyes are always red and sore.

There is very little clean drinking water. I’m thirsty most days. Water is polluted after years of contamination and greed by the water companies. It worse when the floods come because sewage mixes with the clean water we’ve tried to harvest.

Speaking of harvest, there is very little food at my local shops as local farmers are struggling to grow anything in the extreme heat and with little irrigation. It’s either too wet or too dry and hot.

The global supply chains, which used to distribute wonderful food from every corner of the planet have collapsed. I’m hungry most days as I struggle to grow my own food as farmers can’t provide for us all.

We have very few clothes because we can’t grow the materials and products needed to make them. Cotton, which I loved, disappeared from the earth a few years ago now. Man-made fabrics are hard to come by too as the economy has collapsed.

What makes everything so much harder is there are too many people. An exploding, out of control, enormous population means there are too many people around battling over too few things.

The planet just couldn’t sustain the numbers. My home used to be my little slice of paradise in our collective ‘planet-earth home’, which was once beautiful, green, plentiful and covered in wonderful nature.

After greedy humans took it for granted, neglected it, polluted it, and ignored the warning signs, my home is now hell on a scorched and ruined Earth.

Ok. This may sound dramatic, of course.

It sounds absolutely awful, like an extreme Mad-Max film.

You might even think it sounds far-fetched and that I’m scaremongering.

But, hand-on-heart I honestly don’t think I am. When I see what damage we are causing the planet and the frightening pace at which we are destroying it, I don’t think we are many more generations away from creating a world and a ‘home’ similar to the horrific picture I’ve painted above.

I don’t mean to frighten or scare you, but I do want us all to wake up to what is happening.

This summer is a MASSIVE WARNING SIGN.

To ignore it or become complacent is a gamble we can’t afford to take.

It's the economy stupid

So, when idiotic politicians are telling our (not very green) Prime Minister that we must slow down our transition to a net zero carbon future, because it is too damaging for the economy and we cannot afford our ‘net-zero pledges’, then maybe they should consider the very real fact that if we don’t COLLECTIVELY ACCELERATE our net zero commitments across the globe, there won’t be much of an economy to speak of and not much of a planet either. 

I’ll leave you with this quote from UN secretary general, António Gutierrez in the last few weeks.

“Our planet has just endured a season of simmering - the hottest summer on record. CLIMATE BREAKDOWN HAS BEGUN. Scientists have long warned what our fossil fuel addiction would unleash. Our climate is imploding faster than we can cope with, with extreme weather events hitting every corner of the planet.”

George Clarke is an architect, writer, TV presenter and Ecodan Ambassador