Ah! It would be lovely, wouldn’t it – if Manchester and the north west of England emerged as the new Florence and Tuscany of Europe? Just imagine cypress trees and vineyards scattered among the Pennine foothills and the Cheshire Gap. In A Calculated Life, Mancunians have adapted to a hotter climate and the region’s agricultural patterns have shifted dramatically. Thus climate change forms a backdrop to the novel.
Much to my surprise, the release of A Calculated Life has coincided with a long-awaited turning point in the debate on climate change. During the US presidential elections, climate change was conspicuous by its absence in political debate. But Hurricane Sandy has brought a turnaround in public attitude. Sandy hit the Caribbean and northeastern US, bringing chaos to the economic powerhouse of New York. Many US citizens and politicians are now forthright in linking this devastating event with man-made climate change.
Only last Tuesday, tv news anchors Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio resigned on air over unbalanced news reporting on Fox News; climate change denial being one of their chief concerns.
At the same time, UK accountancy firm PWC released its assessment of global efforts to reduce carbon emissions. They concluded that for four years the world has ‘hit repeatedly the snooze button’. According to Leo Johnson, partner for sustainability and climate change, ‘businesses, governments and communities across the world need to plan for a warming world – not just 2°C, but 4°C, or even 6°C.’
Sadly, the UK coalition government has failed to set carbon reduction targets in its Energy Bill.
This all sounds depressing, I know, but I’m personally making an effort to reduce my carbon footprint. For the past six years, I’ve been involved with a grassroots community project that aims to cut carbon emissions. You might like to take a look at what we’ve been up – Ashton Hayes Going Carbon Neutral Project. It’s been an amazing journey. We’ve cut our emissions by 23%, set up a renewable energy generation company and . . . we’ve had a lot of fun along the way.
As for the Florence-and-Tuscany scenario, I’m reminded of that saying: Be careful what you wish for.