This was a debate which met the highest standards, with two excellent speakers. Anthony Harris, a man of good cheer and an IT expert, spoke optimistically of the giant strides made by technology in the areas of car manufacturing, white goods, green energy sources, artificial foods and even light bulbs. His premise was that we can rely on technology to grasp the nettle without a serious erosion of western lifestyles. Giving the example of the international effort to develop covid vaccines with breathtaking speed, he foresaw mankind cooperating to achieve solutions to CO2 omissions and other factors causing global warning.
Opposing was Matthew Bird, who was far less convinced from his viewpoint as Lewes DC Counsellor and Climate Change lead at the Sussex Wildlife Trust. He noted the long term call for carbon capture technology which seems to be failing. The green grant schemes in the UK have been undermined by successive governments intent on sparing the public finances. While China may be leading the world with solar power, it is still commissioning new coal mines and fossil fuel plants at a colossal rate. Even the UK is in the planning stages for a new coal mine in Cumbria. Matthew was scathing about off-setting $7m for air flights ( Bill Gates) and claimed that only behaviour change by all of mankind could save the planet.
Audience members felt that vested interests meant companies rarely acted in the public good, but rather for their shareholders seeking short-term gain. The optimism was renewed by a recognition that young people are passionate about saving the planet, assuming they will inherit one that can be saved.
In March we discuss racist issues, “Racism is too easy a slur” and whether there is enough understanding and good faith to bring about harmonious race relations in our country.