A degree of caution on climate


But let us pause for thought before we look too eagerly towards exports of new crops, large-scale wine production and a return to the tourist heyday of the 1950s and 60s. Just as every cloud has a silver lining, an even sunnier Jersey would could see grave disadvantages as well as advantages.

To begin with, climate change is likely to bring more rainfall and fiercer winter storms as well as higher average temperatures. And in the long term, rising sea levels could produce more dramatic effects, perhaps making many of the low-lying areas of the Island on the south and east coasts uninhabitable. Even as matters stand, St Helier is by no means immune from occasional flooding.

It is, meanwhile, worth considering the impact of global warming in the wider world. Initially at least, Islanders might be inconvenienced by heavy winter rain and damaging winds, but elsewhere people could be seeing agriculture die and traditional fisheries disappearing because of the disruption of ocean currents.

Crucially, of course, we belong to the wider world and must share responsibility for dealing with the truly disastrous consequences of climate change predicted on a global level. We should therefore be grateful that Planning and Environment are taking climate issues seriously across the board. The department’s Eco-Active report, Turning Point, is an earnest and timely assessment of trends that the bulk of the scientific community now considers to be well under way.

As a small community, Jersey can do only so much to influence its own fate in terms of climate, but it does have responsibilities and there are courses of action that can make a difference locally and, to an extent, globally. For example, we must play our part in limiting the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide which are raising temperatures.

One of the ways in which we can do this is by sparing no effort in identifying and exploiting low-carbon energy sources. Planning and Environment are clearly aware of this, and the department’s eagerness to exploit the vast power of the tides sweeping around the Island to generate electricity must be encouraged as a priority even in the face of the present shortage of ready cash.


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