I recently attended an outstanding Innovation Forum Conference in Cambridge – www.inno-forum.org. There were 18 excellent two minute pitches followed by a gentle “interrogation” from a high profile panel which was an excellent way of drawing out the key elements of the presentations.
However, the one presentation which really stuck in my mind was a presentation by Martin Lees who is a UN adviser on climate change. He delivered a very calm, measured address with detailed slides to back up his presentation including some stark images of the ravages of climate change affecting our planet today. However, his conclusions were startling and stark – mankind is sleepwalking into extinction!
I was reminded of the old management story about the frog being put into a pot of boiling water. It jumps out because the hot water is uncomfortable. However, if you put it in a pot of cold water and heat it up slowly it enjoys the warmth and does not notice until it is too late.
Tony Blair said that the Stern Review was the most important document he had read in all his time in Downing Street. How many people today can remember what the Stern Review was, let along what it was about? (It was about the economic cost of dealing with the consequences of climate change which was estimated to be about 1% of GDP when the Review was published in 2005.)
The world then went into financial meltdown and Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” was conveniently forgotten while policymakers tried to mend the financial system. However, the climate change guru James Lovelock was interviewed on The Today Programme recently bemoaning the fact that we are going into an important election without the most important issue which faces us appearing on the lips of any of our politicians.
It is turning out to be a classic case of “lollipop politics”. The political classes all seem to think that the electorate can be bought with lollipops – choose your colour. However, we need political leaders with the courage to face up to reality, tell us about the dangers ahead and help us to avoid them. If we fail to confront the reality of climate change, our children and grandchildren may look back on the age of austerity as a golden age of mankind.