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Consumer society is ‘unsustainable’

Tom Wall15/10/2014 - 13:00

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Alex Hill advised Scottish and NI ministers
Alex Hill advised Scottish and NI ministers

A Met Office climate change expert has warned that the current economic system is unsustainable and urged politicians to think about alternatives measures of economic success at the CIEH National Conference.

Alex Hill, who advised the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive on climate change, told EHN in an exclusive video interview at the conference in Nottingham last week that Western consumer society cannot go on pillaging the planet's resources.

 ‘We are at the stage where we need to think very carefully about how we have structured the society around us. We cannot go on pillaging the planet of its resources. We have only got one planet and it is limited. Trying to replicate what we have done over the past 150 over the next 150 years is going to be extremely difficult,’ he said.




Mr Hill, who was also head of the Met Office’s London Weather Centre, urged politicians to think about different measures of success.

‘Perhaps it is worth thinking about a measure of success? At the moment we measure our success in the amount of money in our pocket, the size of our car and the size of our house. Maybe we need think about how to measure our success as individuals slightly differently,’ he said.

He added it had been easier to work with politicians in Scotland than in other parts of the country.

‘Generally speaking they listened and listened well, particularly in Scotland, we found that dealing with ministers was an open process and it worked well. Rather more difficult in other parts of the country, rather more difficult when you have got politicians with fixed views, entrenched before you go in with the science to try and persuade them otherwise,’ he said. ‘It’s been very difficult and last thing you want to do is to get in to trouble with them.’

He said if we continue to pump out greenhouse gases at current rates then large part of the UK would become prone to flooding.

‘It is difficult to pin down where the changes will be but if you look at the big global changes in pattern then one of the obvious things is increasing sea level rise. That means that a lot of the South East of England in particular is going to become vulnerable to coastal flooding. You are finding the same thing up happening in the very far north where Shetland and Orkney are beginning to sink. Those areas that are already prone to flooding are likely to become increasingly prone,’ he said.  

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