BE AWARE OF: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE SUSTAINABLE REVOLUTION

The new Millennium is now with us and it will be a time that will mark a change as significant as the INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION. What is happening now might be called a ‘SUSTAINABLE REVOLUTION’ – a period of societal change that will effect the world as fundamentally as that which occurred from the 18th Century on.

The Industrial Revolution saw massive changes in population structure, distribution and growth, in mass production techniques and in rising standards of living (not for all though) and (ultimately) better health standards. This has not been without cost, with poverty, social disadvantage, urban disease and pollution problems occurring.

And it is now clear that, after three centuries of economic growth with vast technological advances and a consumer based society demanding of goods and services, that there have been far wider adverse impacts than was first realised.

Unrestrained economic growth has resulted in global wide impacts, including exponential increases in CO2 emissions, ‘agribusiness’ agriculture decimating habitats and soil quality and huge losses of pristine rainforest and coral ecosystems (as examples).

The seeming 'far-off' impact of GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE has not until the last decade been fully understood and positively addressed. In this area, global wide policy has developed too slowly, mainly because of individual state political motivations and some countries blocking global CO2 agreements. Real action to date has to date been limited - to all of our costs.

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As a result, over the next 50 years plus we will suffer the worsening consequences of the unrestrained, global-scale technological, industrial and economic growth. In fact, we are now experiencing the CO2 emission effects that occurred in the 1950's and 1960’s, so the question must be asked: with what is occurring now in terms of global CO2 emissions, what will things be like in 50 years time? The graphs of world CO2 emissions – which show exponential increases - do not make happy reading.

It has now been scientifically accepted (apart from a very small minority) that human activity has resulted in CLIMATE CHANGE and GLOBAL WARMING. Growing affluence and associated consumer led growth has and will result in increased global temperatures, droughts, extreme weather conditions, ice cap and glacier loss, flooding and sea level rises, as well as wildlife loss/extinctions and destructive habitat change.

All of this is now occurring, with 'at home' organisations such as the local Wildlife Trusts reporting that local flora and fauna patterns in the UK are significantly changing, with summers being extended and warmer temperatures pushing further north, year on year.

Most frightening of all, will the Earth reach a ‘tipping point’, where ecosystems such as the tundra permafrost across Russia and the remaining tropical rainforests crash with the resulting bio-destruction emitting even more CO2 plus dangerous methane??? There might be no going back at this point - and it is a scenario that is not as far away as we might think …

Please give us FEEDBACK on our Sustainable Development web pages - any comments/additions are welcome!!! Also, if you have a Sustainable Development related website, would you like to LINK to us? Note: CLICK ON photos for links to other pages.

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So, what can be done?

As a first step, it must be realised that issues such as GLOBAL WARMING, GLOBAL DIMMING and CLIMATE CHANGE have become a core and very prominent part of ALL of our lives, not the far-off, vague and seemingly unimportant issues that they have to date appeared to be.... For instance, it is obvious to us all that in a pin-prick of geological time we have seen the UK weather fundamentally change from cool to hotter, with record heat waves being regularly recorded over the last fifteen years (many winters were cold with deep snow when our Planning Director was a young boy in the 1960’s!!).

Society must respond to what it has collectively done to the global environment. Big changes are indeed in the course of occurring, with the public and governments finally realising that very quick action is needed… Thus, there is beginning to be a movement away from traditional economic growth towards a SUSTAINABLE REVOLUTION - a new global phase of more environmentally friendly, sustainable development, community growth….and a globally based move towards a GREEN ECONOMY.

Thus, the SUSTAINABLE REVOLUTION is upon us and we all must, as part of the World Community, work towards a new SUSTAINABLE FUTURE . We must as individuals right through to Governments realise that the above mentioned world-wide impacts are not only 'here and now' but 'in our front living rooms'.

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Everything that you and your family do - including heating your house and driving the kids to school (hopefully not in a big 4x4!!) - should be viewed as an integrated and important part of CLIMATE CHANGE. A new mindset is needed in our thoughts and our actions, at all levels, as follows:

  • WORLDWIDE AGREEMENTS: SUCH AS - Global agreements on CO2 emissions plus environmental requirements and directives at European level. In time this might involve much stronger curbs on habitat destruction – in particular, we would like to see a complete stopping of rainforest decimation, which is a vital step if the ‘green lung’ of the earth is to be maintained.

  • GOVERNMENT ACTION: SUCH AS – The UK’s commitment to large reductions in CO2 emissions. The National Planning Policy Statements and sustainability related regulations will help achieve this by providing planning & development guidance on how to combat climate change. These policy tools will be aimed not only at controlling CO2 emissions but at halting environmental degradation and destruction and creating a ‘greener’ economy for all.

  • REGIONAL ACTION: SUCH AS - in London, the London Plan. This gives a regional dimension to National policy.

  • LOCAL ACTION: SUCH AS – Localism - the Government's new 'buzz word' and new style development plans - Neighbourhood Plans and Local Development Frameworks (LDF’s). LDFs will contain a suite of development documents to guide local development so that it is environmentally sustainable. Local Strategic Partnerships and Sustainable Community Strategies are additional tools that are seen as part of the SPATIAL PLANNING FRAMEWORK. These local documents are the forefront of SUSTAINABLE ACTION.

  • and: INDIVIDUAL ACTION: SUCH AS – Saving water at home, efficient energy use, lower your heating…..Anything, however small, you can do to conserve and wisely use the earth’s resources. There are plenty of websites available on sustainable living and we are aiming to start a list of these in coming months.

We have finally realised that CLIMATE CHANGE is upon us and it is only by taking forward the SUSTAINABLE REVOLUTION and creating a GREEN ECONOMY that we will get through this threatening global period. We have no other option but to radically change the way we live and to carefully use the remaining scarce resources on Earth – the time is ripe for proactive action and we hope that you will play your part.

Please give us FEEDBACK on our Sustainable Development web pages - any comments/additions are welcome!!! Also, if you have a Sustainable Development related website, would you like to LINK to us? Note: CLICK ON photos for links to other pages.

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We hope that you enjoy our 'BE AWARE OF:' series of articles on Climate Change, Sustainable Development and the Spatial Planning System. The full list of BE AWARE OF: articles is:

CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE SUSTAINABLE REVOLUTION

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT & SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES: A DEFINITION

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: A MORE ACADEMIC DEFINITION

7 KEY CONCEPTS FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

THE UK SPATIAL PLANNING SYSTEM

NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR PLANNING APPLICATIONS

ENERGY, CO2 EMISSIONS & PLANNING APPLICATIONS

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION & PLANNING APPLICATIONS

DESIGN AND ACCESS STATEMENTS

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