Letter: Global warming sparks a heated debate

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The Independent Online
Sir: Gregg Easterbrook's article 'Hot air and global warming' ) is pernicious rubbish. There are some questions that can be addressed in terms of the simplifications of 'the sun continues to rise' type, with which Mr Easterbrook feels comfortable. But the questions raised by the environment are more complicated than this. In fact, they are specially complicated, for four reasons:

Lagged effects - the full environmental consequences of current activities will not become evident for three decades or more;

Delayed reactions - some of the most critical solutions would take a century to implement, even if we could all agree to start now;

Uncertainty - if we waited for certainty to develop on environmental issues, we could never take any preventative action at all;

Instability - the changes that we can now predict with some degree of confidence could rock us out of our present climatic equilibrium into another one, to which we may be ill adapted.

Even if these concerns were entirely unfounded, the environment perspective is rightly setting the agenda for industrial and social policy. Within its frame of reference companies reduce waste, improve product quality, protect their localities and achieve improved market share and earnings; in social policy the environment perspective addresses issues of distribution, underemployment, quality of life and responsibility.

The pace at which we are responding to global environmental change is dangerously slow, and debunking articles of the kind offered by Mr Easterbrook do their bit to paralyse it completely.

Yours faithfully,

DAVID FLEMING

Director

The Strategy Workshop

London, NW3

7 August

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