I’m not kidding!
The enormous rainfall of the past few days has led to inundation of the greater London area. The warmer-than-usual conditions mean that the spread of water-borne disease is the main concern, though food distribution is likely to pose a significant challenge if the floods take as long to recede as they did in the 2023 event.
OK, so I’m being silly. I spent the evening on Friday at the Museum of London’s new Futures display. There was a panel discussion about climate change and business, along with a provocative display by two graphic artists. The display took iconic ‘postcard’ images of London and transformed them into possible pictures of the future. Some were positive, showing festivals and life going on, while others were bleak, such as a mass shanty town of climate refugees in Hyde Park.
The images (some of which can be seen here) were thought provoking, because climate change is so often ‘far away’, either in time or space. By putting possible impacts, like inundation due to sea level rise, into a very recognisable and visually arresting setting, the phenomenon can really hit home. Sure, there might not be rice paddies in front of Downing Street, but the point is made that we can’t take what we have now for granted.
The image above was developed in a little 5 minute activity which encouraged people to take a Google Street View snapshot of their house or area, then flood it. I used a building in the Clayponds Village postgraduate complex, where I’ll be living for the next year (the badly added helicopter was a cheesy touch, but the sky was dead space otherwise!).
Like every other panel discussion I’ve seen on climate change, it barely scraped the surface of the complexity of the issue. One comment from Charlie Kronick, Senior Climate Advisor for Greenpeace UK, really hit home, though. About a quarter of the dividends paid from the stock market in the UK are from fossil fuel companies (BP/Shell) – they are a pillar of the economy, but they are also legislated to be effectively out of existence in 40 years time. That is massive! Bits and bobs of investment, or a minority of consumers purchasing more responsibly, cannot hope to achieve the goals already set, let alone make more ambitious changes or adapt to climate-related problems if (when) they come about.
As Clive Hamilton said in Requiem for a Species: despair, accept, act. We’re in a mess. We must now do everything to can to make sure our effect on the climate is merely problematic, not catastrophic.