About 10 days ago, I was shocked when my mate Marc who lives near Hebden Bridge told me that, after the floods at Christmas, some schools were still shut, most shops were still closed and that they’d only just got a working cash point back. We wondered how many shops would ever be able to re-open with the threat of more floods likely, and about the long term effects when their kid’s schooling had been messed up for weeks on end. We’re not seeing it on the news anymore, but the effects of extreme weather events like this don’t stop just because the TV cameras have left the scene.
Last week, the latest figures were published showing that worldwide temperature records were ‘shattered’ in 2015 making it the hottest year in human history on planet earth by a long way. Sadly as the planet changes, this won’t give us ‘sun-drenched summers’ but more likely a much wetter UK, with more frequent extreme weather and more and bigger floods. However, when the floods arrived, it was brilliant to see how people from all walks of life pitched-in to help ‘mop up’, not just in Hebden, but in Bury, in Salford and in Rochdale.
Last month I wrote about the historic UN climate-change agreement in Paris. This was hugely positive, but everyone agrees that the ‘hard work starts here’ to make the agreement work, by phasing out our use of oil and gas and producing less of the pollution that causes climate change. Big business isn’t waiting for politicians though; they’re getting on with it. IKEA aren’t supplying all their shops worldwide with 100% clean energy just to save polar bears and Unilever isn’t pledging to generate no carbon pollution at all by 2030 just for a laugh: For businesses it’s plainly good for their bills, their staff and good for business. The challenge is for our businesses closer to home to do the same for us, and for us to reward those organisations with our business.
If last month’s floods teach us anything, its that we all need to be pitching-in, not just to help the families and businesses so badly affected by the flooding now, but to work together to fix climate change permanently, or we’ll all end up mopping-up for ever.