Any more Stupid questions?

May 21, 2009 : General Team Building

Scotland is famous for its miserable climate, but when I recently read that our country is now 20% wetter than it was in 2004 I despairingly extended the hypothetical graph and concluded that we will be 100% wetter in 2029.  100% wetter means double the number of rainy days, and half the number of dry days. So, if our climate is already “miserable”, I’m struggling to find an adjective to adequately describe our weather in twenty years time.  (2029, incidentally is the year I’m due to retire – weather to look forward to then!)

In last month’s news bulletin, I announced plans to host a private screening of  “Age of Stupid”, the new provocative docudrama set in post-apocalyptic world of 2050 where a surviving archivist (Peter Postlethwaite) looks back to 2007 and asks how we were stupid enough to let global warming  destroy our planet. Well…I can happily report that lights will dim as the projector flickers into life in front of a capacity audience on the 2nd of June.

The idea is to get private sector companies into a small room together with environmentalists, NGO’s and the government to cross-examine each other on the impact that climate change will have on Scotland’s vital hospitality and tourism sector. The film will simply act as nudge to position the debate and stimulate healthy discussion.

Alex Hill, Chief Advisor of The Met Office, who has now seen the film four times but retains an unhealthy enthusiasm to see it again, has agreed to introduce the evening with a prediction of how the Scottish climate will change in ten, twenty or thirty years.  I wonder how my simplistic hypothetical graph will stand up to his scrutiny.

The debate will be spearheaded by a panel of four experts:

  • Philip Riddle, Chief Executive of Visit Scotland, who has his very own Scenario Planner, so he should be pretty well briefed on what the future holds for us
  • Tom Brock, CEO of the Scottish Seabird Centre and in his spare time is Chair of the Sustainability Implementation Group
  • Robin Worsnop, MD of Rabbies Trail Burners and Chair of the Tourism Innovation Group
  • Keith Geddes, Deputy Chair of Scottish National Heritage.

Far from being a piece of over-dramatised fictional hearsay, the film’s “do nothing” consequences are the reality unanimously accepted by scientific community and now our government.  I recently attended a Friends of the Earth seminar at Edinburgh University headlined by Lord Adair Turner wearing his Committee on Climate Change hat.  He is more easily recognised by some in his FSA hat.  The CCC would seem to accept Sir James Lovelock’s (preeminent scientist) early and insightful prediction that by the end of the century the Earth’s temperature will have risen by 8° , 80% of the population will have died and only the polar extremes will be habitable.  Lord Turner explained that we now have a 50% chance of restricting global warming by 2° and to achieve this we need to reduce green house gasses by 80% by 2050.  Even if we achieve this ambitious reduction, there will still be a 10 – 20% chance of 3° or higher temperature increase which would result in widespread global damage to life.

Scotland is now on the eve of its own Climate Change Bill which, in line with the rest of the UK, requires our country to reduce our emissions by 80% by 2050 and in so doing contribute to the targeted 2° temperature increase restriction.  To achieve this ambition we, Scotland and the UK, require the wholesale electrification of our economy (domestic, industry, transport) achieved through a blend of renewables and nuclear.  Our SNP administration does not like nuclear so we have a problem Holyrood.

Our Stupid evening is a fun way to tackle a serious subject. If you have a passing interest in the future well-being of hospitality and tourism in Scotland or like me, are concerned about the number of umbrellas I might need in retirement, then I invite you to submit a question to challenge our panel, a named individual, or have some fun getting the audience to vote on a position.

So, please join the debate by posting your question below in the “leave a comment” box and I’d be delighted to read them out on the night with responses on line shortly there after.
Click here to read about Eden, a dynamic team building activity which encourages participants to reflect on environmental and social issues.

Click here to find out about Maximillion’s approach to sustainable business.

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