Interview with climate expert Sir David King:
Humanity is now the primary driver of our climate
BARCELONA, Spain, Jul 22 (IPS) – Humanity faces enormous challenges at the start of the 21st century, says Sir David King, Britain’s former chief scientific advisor and now director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University in England.
The crises surrounding climate change, population growth, water, food and land are deeply interconnected, Sir David said at the opening of the Euroscience Open Forum in Barcelona, Friday.
The Forum, known as ESOF, is a biannual gathering of scientists, researchers, policy makers and journalists that has become Europe’s largest scientific showcase. This year, 4,700 people registered for the five-day conference in Barcelona from Jul. 18- 22.
In his role as chief scientific advisor, Sir David was outspoken in his warnings to political leaders that climate change is a far greater threat than terrorism and that the failure to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels would make terrorism far worse and create millions of environmental refugees.
IPS environmental correspondent Stephen Leahy spoke to Sir David at the symposium in Barcelona.
IPS: Population growth rates are slowing, what is your concern?
DK: Growth rates are beginning to slow. There are 6.8 billion people now and that will rise to 8 billion in 2028 and then peak at 9 billion in 2050, according to recent projections. However, that number of people will exert an impossible strain on the Earth’s natural resources.
For example, there isn’t enough fresh water for more than 8.5 billion people at our current average usage. Food production is limited by water availability and the only way forward will be to use genetic modification to create drought-tolerant crops. We here in Europe need to change our minds on GM crops. Those anti-GM attitudes probably crippled research and are responsible for a large number of hunger fatalities in Africa.
IPS: What about the current global food crisis? Continue reading