Reading the latest IPCC report about the prospects for global warming has not been easy. Yes, there remains a glimmer of hope, but – when there seems little immediate prospect of me replacing my gas boiler or my petrol-driven car, despite my solar panels and my wood-burning stove – then we have to really believe the world can act in time.
But even if we can prevent runaway climate change, we will clearly have to start thinking of living with unprecedented climate shifts. We have had a summer of endless drizzle, rather than the horrific temperatures of nearly 50 degrees centigrade in southern Europe. So it may be possible for ordinary human life to survive in the UK, anyway for longer than many places.
But we need to think about two elements. First will be the huge and increasing pressure of immigration from the rest of the world. So much so that it will dominate politics in this country for decades to come.
And if that isn’t bad enough, there will be wars and rumours of wars everywhere else. We need to start talking about this now.
The other issue is the complete pointlessness of all that money invested in recent years into flood protection. Because our geography is about to go into reverse.
I wrote a play about the medieval harbour returning to Steyning for our local arts festival in 2018, the inland town where I live in the South Downs. I may have been wiser than I knew back then.
There other examples. In Saxon times, the Thames was navigable to shipping all the way to Oxford. I don’t suppose, modern ships will ever make it that far, but this is the kind of uncertainty we can expect: wait until the London underground floods and then tell me I’m wrong.
Last time I went to Palos de la Frontera in Spain, the wharf from where Columbus set sail in 1492, the sea bed then is now a strawberry farm and the sea itself, even the Guadalquivir river, had disappeared over the horizon.
Finally, I discovered over the past weekend that the River Arun did not finally settle as emerging into the English Channel at Littlehampton until a particularly vicious storm as recently as 1735.
Luckily I bought my home in the foothills of the Downs, and the survey promised me – rather unwisely I think – that it would not flood for at least a thousand years. I am no longer quite as sure of that as I was, but I am still a good deal better off than I would be if I lived near the pathetically low flood defences they are building along the River Adur down the road in Shoreham…