Why do I want you to drive slower anyway? Well, it's safer, and it saves fuel which saves you money, but mainly because it reduces carbon emissions. Some of you may be well-versed in the whole carbon issue, but I suspect many people are still kind of fuzzy on what it's all about. So here is:
A (VERY) BRIEF HISTORY OF CARBON
Carbon dioxide is a natural part of earth's atmosphere, even though only in tiny amounts (4 parts in every 10,000). But it's the second most important greenhouse gas. That means it has a huge effect on the atmosphere's capacity to retain heat, trapping energy in our atmosphere.
It's not the most important greenhouse gas - that would be water vapour. The amount of water vapour in our atmosphere isn't changing. But the amount of carbon dioxide is, because in recent human history we have burnt off massive amounts of coal and oil and natural gas - fossil fuels. I'm sure you remember from school science lessons that fossil fuels are formed from prehistoric living organisms, such as animals and plants, that got trapped under rock and buried deep under the earth. This sealed away enormous amounts of carbon and stored it up for millions of years. But in just the last hundred years we have dug most of it up and burned it, releasing it into the atmosphere again.
GLOBAL WARMING? BUT I FEEL COLD!All this extra carbon dioxide increases our atmosphere's capacity to store energy. Overall, this means global temperatures are rising. But locally it can mean warming or cooling, more rain, or drought. It means the disruption of familiar patterns and weather chaos. Some sceptics gets their knickers in a twist about this, but it makes sense. My friend Jim Finnis once explained that the climate is a bit like a child's swing. If you put more energy into it, say by giving it a hard shove to the left, you don't expect it to just move over to the left and stay there. You expect it to swing about more, both more left and more right. More energy means more everything. Just more weather.
SO WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?Good question. I feel really strongly that we can't dither about and wait for someone else to fix this for us. I hope that governments will do something to fix it, but that will only happen if the voters demand it. I hope that businesses will do something, but that will only happen if stockholders demand it. I hope that scientists will find more solutions to it, and they are doing that. But we already know the solution - every one of us has to take responsibility for emitting less carbon dioxide.
Driving slower is one way to start.