Humans have failed to tackle the ‘perfect storm’ of threats to our sustained survival - the triple threat of demands of food, energy and water, combined with the issue of climate change - Professor Sir John Beddington told an audience at the Oxford Martin School yesterday (26 February).
Sir John began by saying that many of the global problems that emerged during the 20th century were due to good things, namely improvements in mortality rates and increased prosperity. And he argued that the early 21st century was already determined, with the global population set to increase by an extra billion by 2025, continued growth of urban populations and the effects of greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels.
He voiced doubt that a global pact to cut emissions could be obtained, and said more thought should be given to ‘creative coalitions’, such as those recommended by the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations, to tackle the issue. Clean energy technology offered hope for sustainable energy, but current take-up was “pitifully small”, he said, adding: “When I talked in 2008 about the perfect storm I hoped things would improve. I have to say they have not. If anything they are more challenging and more difficult.”