The IPCC report that I blogged about on Monday has left me feeling rather solemn and helpless. Here are some random personal reflections upon where we are with climate change and how we got here.
When I was born in 1953, this planet's population was way short of three billion but now in 2021 we are up to 7.8 billion closing in rapidly on 8 billion. The world's population has more than doubled in my lifetime. By a long way.
When I was a child there were no plastic bags in shops. There were no supermarkets and most people shopped locally - taking their own bags and baskets with them. Fine green beans were not imported from Egypt and the only rice anybody consumed was in the form of rice puddings. Buying vegetables was a much more seasonal affair. You only ate salads in the summertime.
Hardly anybody owned cars and there were no motorways. Public transport was far more comprehensive, regular and far-reaching. Ordinary people did not travel on aeroplanes to enjoy holidays in foreign lands. In fact they rarely travelled far.
Ordinary homes were not centrally heated. You relied upon open fires to keep your home warm in the wintertime. Most families had just one fire. Nobody had showers in their homes and unless you were in a particularly dirty occupation, you had just one bath a week.
If you had siblings, clothes were passed down through the family. Laundering clothes and bedding was not as regular and energy-sapping as it is today. Nobody had tumble driers. Washing Day was a once in a week event - typically Mondays.
Things were made to last. My mother had a Hoover vacuum cleaner that lasted for twenty five years and even then it was not done. She passed it on to us when we bought our first house in 1981.
Electric lighting in the average home was a simple business - normally just one light fitting per room. Side lights and suchlike were a rarity.
I am pleased to say that we always had a flush toilet but my mother and father grew up in homes where human excrement was collected to feed vegetable plots. They called it "night soil" and there were special galvanised buckets in which to carry it or let it mature. People who grew vegetables did not do so as a hobby. They grew them to save money and supplement the family diet.
Nobody bought ready meals because they did not exist. At the pub you could ask for bitter or mild from its parent brewery and there was little else to choose from - just some bottles, optics for spirits and soft drinks too. There was only one flavour when it came to potato crisps - plain. Cheese and onion came later.
Milk was delivered to the doorstep in glass bottles which were later collected and washed ready to be used again and again. There were no plastic bottles containing spring water from The Alps, The Scottish Highlands or Buxton in Derbyshire.
I am not listing these things for the sake of nostalgia but to say that back then the way that people lived tended to put less strain upon the planet's resources. Though coal was vital to us, our carbon footprints were nonetheless much smaller than they are today. I am sure that you can also recall other aspects of the way we lived that just happened to be friendlier to our world.