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Floods, climate change and Cameron’s money burning machine

climate changeCameron is a rootless chameleon politician, but his daily masquerades putting on new guises sometimes do get in the way of each other. Having delayed and reacted late as the floods engulfed the Somerset Levels and then beyond, as soon as the growing climactic violence put his own leadership on the line he swung round, admitted that climate change lay behind the storms and devastation, and went to the other extreme of offering ‘money no object’ assurances to all and sundry.

Gone in a whiff of rhetoric was the government platform that money was so tight with the deficit that a further £25bn had to be lopped off public expenditure in the next Parliament. But once again in a tight corner Cameron had shot his mouth off, and in the event very little aid has actually materialised for the beleaguered villages along the swollen banks of the Thames. Yet having been forced to acknowledge the virulence of the climate threat and to eat humble pie over the £110m cut in flood defences since 2010, he then immediately zigzags off in the opposite direction.

He pledges £200bn for a massive extension of North Sea oil and gas exploration, as though blithely unaware that driving this further huge contribution to climate upheaval directly contradicts what he was so hand-wringingly deploring just a few days before. But that’s not how Cameron’s mind works. He’s moved on, another threat looms – this time the SNP making progress in the polls for a yes-vote – and what does a howling contradiction matter if it serves today’s menu at the expense of yesterday’s?

What this all shows is how shallow and ephemeral are Cameron’s commitments, even in the face of what nearly all scientists believe is the gravest threat facing mankind and what Ed Miliband rightly declared is an issue of national security. It’s no just a matter of the UK floods, it’s the warming of the Siberian permafrost which will release billions of tons of methane which is 20 times more toxic than CO2; it’s the dieback of the Amazon which will transform the world’s greatest rainforest from an absorber of CO2 into a desert that generates it: it’s the collapse of the West Antarctica ice-sheet which will raise sea levels by 7 metres(over 22 ft.) and thus wipe out several regions and cities of the world. And it’s biodiversity which is being destroyed at a rate between 100 and 1,000 times faster than in the historical and palaeontological record, and given the inter-connectedness of the world’s food supply, the cumulative destructive impact on species, including humans, is incalculable.

Hopping from one crisis to another without seriously engaging in the enormity of what is happening won’t convince anyone, not even the Tory party and certainly not a stricken public.

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