A lot has happened during the hiatus: more extreme weather, publication of the draft energy bill, developments in planned new nuclear power stations and shale gas extraction.and continued persecution of wildlife near and far.
The last year has been nothing if not eventful. We have seen extreme weather at home and abroad which has seen many people question whether it is simply unusual weather or whether it is part of greater changes in climate systems. We are starting to feel the effects in terms of quality and cost of food, which begs the question: can we afford to be complacent on climate change?
We are making slow, if any, progress on reducing our reliance on the fossil fuels that are driving climate change. The twentieth anniversary of the Rio's 1992 Earth Summit was billed as a great opportunity to reach international consensus on action required to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Alas, Rio+20, like so many of these big summits, failed to deliver. The continuing high global demand for fossil fuels is reflected in high prices, for example, the recent large rises in domestic gas prices charged by all of the UK's main suppliers. Rather than driving energy saving measures to reduce consumption, this has increased pressure to explore and exploit shale gas reserves regardless of the risks both from the extraction process and from locking in climate changing emissions to our energy mix for the next thirty to forty years.
Nature has also suffered over the last year, with a horrendous number of rhino and elephants slaughtered for their horns and tusks, many more than in recent years. Closer to home, wildlife crimes continue to be a problem and now the specialist police unit that deals with wildlife is itself endangered and to top it it off, proposed planning reforms for England also pose a threat to our remaining countryside.
That leaves plenty to do in 2013, to raise awareness of the effects of our own actions and to pressure decision makers in the public sector and in business to improve their practices and make the decisions that are better for us all. We can't do it all ourselves yet we can't sit back and expect others to take the hard decisions for us, we need both grassroots action from the bottom up as well as top down leadership from government. Over the coming months I will post on a wide range of environmental topics with emphasis on what we as individuals can do in our daily lives to make a difference.
For now, I'll finish by wishing you a happy and healthy 2013. Slàinte mhath!
All the best,