Banks Environmental Society Derek Wall, ‘How to achieve real action on climate change’

On Thursday 1 December the Banks Society welcomed Dr Derek Wall, a Green Party member and economics teacher by profession, to talk to us on ‘How to achieve real action on climate change’.

As might be expected, Dr Wall answered this question from an economic and political viewpoint, although he did attempt to inject some popular scientific methods into his answer (though these did not include the controversial geo-engineering that has recently been in the news). He did not stick completely to the expected subjects within the climate change solutions bracket (such as better public transport, carbon-offsets and carbon-trading) as he ventured to talk about the experiences of indigenous peoples of, for example, the Amazon rainforest. He mentioned how these people have learnt to adapt to their environment by keeping both its other members and themselves in check, yet these people, from whom we can learn so much, are having their land taken off them by blinkered business interests. Consequently the previously balanced ecosystem is thrust into turmoil with mass swathes of trees cleared away, only to be replaced by damaging palm-oil crops.

Although Dr Wall also tried to reveal the failings of climate-change sceptics to see the bigger picture (namely the obvious upward trend in carbon dioxide equivalents found in our atmosphere), he did end up stressing how we must be sceptical of emerging technologies, methods and strategies that claim to vastly reduce the output of these greenhouse gases, including the use of bio-fuels and the strategy called the Clean Development Mechanism.

Interestingly Dr Wall did not have an opinion on the population ‘problem’, preferring himself to concentrate on what we can do to reduce our negative impact on the environment whilst maintaining our current lifestyles and, as much as possible, an optimistic outlook.

Peregrine Dunn OS (SMM)