FOR several months before last week's G8 summit meeting at Gleneagles, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser was telling anyone who would listen that global warming and climate change are more important than the war of terror. Is he telling the Prime Minister the same thing today? Has he even seen the Mr Blair since the end of last week? But here's an interesting thing. An article by Margaret Beckett, the government's environment minister, published in The Guardian last Tuesday, began with these words: Climate change is the greatest challenge facing the global community.The nature and scale of its potential effects are so great that it is inseparable from the challenge of fighting the blight of extreme poverty. Has she been reading the papers? My first reaction to Ms Beckett's article was that she must have recycled an old speech and given it to the newspaper before the terrorist bombs exploed in London last week, and had then forgotten about it. But, on second thoughts, I suspect that she deliberately wrote as she did in an effort to bring the public debate back to some kind of normality after a week in which the London bombs and their aftermath have blotted out almost everything else. And, as a matter of fact, Ms Beckett is probably right when she describes global warming as the greatest challenge facing the global community. Worrying as the realisation may be that terror is so close to home in Britan, it is a problem that can, with wisdom, be contained and controlled. Global warming, on the other hand, is a force of nature that is currently out of control and already threatening damage to the environment that could last for centuries. Having given Ms Beckett the benefit of the doubt about the thrust of her article I cannot go on to agree with the astonishingly optimistic view she takes of the outcome of the G8 discussions on this subject. In an article of nearly one thousand words she manages to avoid mentioning even once the United States and its stubborn refusal to recognise what is happening to our planet.
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