There’s a storm coming, Croydon

By - Friday 11th April, 2014

Could 2014 be the year that climate change comes home? Paul Williams definitely thinks so

“There’s a storm coming, Mr Wayne.” So spoke Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle in 2012′s The Dark Knight Rises, a film partially shot in Croydon. Her words became an iconic quotation that is useful today. There’s a storm coming, Croydon.

But unlike Gotham City, you can still do something about it.

The people of Croydon engage with the climate change debate as energetically as the next busy, distracted bunch of folks. We recycle our rubbish and donate to Greenpeace while other things seem more urgent: job security, our children’s education. But after this winter’s floods, will what the scientists are saying now feel up close and personal for Croydonians?

Scientific opinion is beyond doubt that climate change is happening. We are on a path to a warmer, more volatile ecosystem which will impact directly on the lives of today’s children and their children. Yet society has not seemed concerned – why is this?

Perhaps it takes events as dramatic as these to grab our attention

Is it because the deniers speak very loudly – even though they are backed by very few scientists – and have the backing of influential interests which profit from current lifestyles? Certainly.

Is it because those who believe the evidence use complicated graphs and charts to prove our case? Are we naive to hope that the information we present will cause behaviour to change? Possibly.

Or is it because the effects have been too gradual to notice? Temperatures may rise, sea levels may inch up, but it takes dramatic events like those we have recently seen – rain, drought, storms, typhoons – to grab people’s attention.

Could it be because the most serious impacts have been far away, until now, and we only engage with what directly affects us? Certainly.

Suddenly I feel that Croydon is at a tipping point

I think it is all of these things and that’s why I have been pessimistic that we could ever get a breakthrough. But suddenly I feel we are at a tipping point and things are about to change. We know that the big corporations – Marks and Spencer, Diageo and Coca Cola to name but three – are beginning to worry about the impact climate change will have on their supply chains and markets. If they are worried, we know that change is real.

The recent floods suffered in Kenley and Purley, and the warnings of more in future, will affect our house prices, our insurance premiums, our public transport and our water supply. Will we now think – if this is bad, what might it be like in ten years? It’s later than we think. I hope Croydon learns and acts in time.

Paul Williams

Paul Williams

A proud Welshman and father who (unexpectedly) ended up residing in Croydon five years ago. Loves the town - warts and all.

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