Thursday, February 10, 2005

Terror and Global Warming

The Madrid Conference Terrorism Debate has moved onto global warming. Alain, who has a very serious case of Islamophobia, argues that we must first defeat militant Islamic fundamentalism, and then we can start to sort out the planet. I beg to differ. It does not have to be either deal with the environment or deal with the threat posed by fundamentalism. It can be both/and.

Take a footballing analogy. If Rangers are playing Celtic, Glaswegians will insult each other and fight. If Scotland is playing England, Rangers and Celtic fans will both cheer at the same time.

So, Biblical and Koranic fundamentalism are squaring up against each other. If the world is forced to take sides, much grief will result. If however, we divert our energies into defending and healing the environment, then the fundamentalists will find themselves sidelined.

The non-fundamentalist majority however can divert ourselves into the greater war - the war against environmental destruction. In doing this, we will solve other problems; for instance Iran does not need nuclear power, it needs solar power - as indeed do the rest of us. If every house in Britain were fitted with photovoltaic panels, they would generate more electricity than the current nuclear power stations - at a fraction of the cost. Solar energy will automatically make hot (poor)countries energy rich. More generally, the struggle to secure the integrity of our environmental support systems will make the evil of unemployment a thing of the past, since there is so much to be done. And environmental economics requires social and economic equity. And so on and so forth. I mentioned the benefits of tree planting yesterday. Everything is interconnected.

So the diversion of effort to meet a common threat will create better general social conditions, which will contribute to a reduction in terrorism.

The solutions are there. As ever, what is lacking is the political will.

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