Rethink Climate: Pledges and progress

The whole programme, broadcast on 2nd January 2023, is worth listening too. Sure, scary. But we need face what’s happening.

If nothing else, catch Bill Mc Guire at 06:37, and Sarah Bell’s response at 07:18. It builds on an earlier statement by Bill McGuire:

Professor Bill McGuire: 05:42
I just think that most world leaders just don’t get climate breakdown. They don’t understand how bad it’s going to be. I mean, it’s going to reach into the global economy and society and tear its heart out . . .

[   ]

Professor Bill McGuire: 06:37
. . . If I only just give you one statistic from a Chatham House report last year. By 2050, the world will need 50% more food to survive because of the growing population. Agricultural yields, because of climate breakdown, could be down 30%.  (1)

Now that’s a recipe for global catastrophe . . .

Amol Rajan: 07:07
That seems an apt moment to bring in Sarah Bell. Resident farmer, Sarah, I just wanted you to respond to that particular statistic, that Bill came up with there about the potential collapse of agriculture . . .

Sarah Bell: 07:18
The collapse of agriculture, yeah, I mean, it’s a real threat to be honest. I can see yields off my farm being vastly more variable in drought years versus good years and sort of looking at a reduction of 40% of my wheat yield, potentially. (2)


note too: Graihagh Jackson at 15:28 makes this statement: If you look at the data, evidence suggests we’re on track for something like 2.7 degrees of warming. (3)


(1) note as well: As reported in our 2018 horizon scanning report, Back from the Future, we are going to have roughly a third less land available for agriculture, because of climate change, resource depletion, notably of soil nutrients and soil biology, plus forest carbon sequestration.

(2)  The UK 2020 wheat harvest was 40% down on the previous year, due to flooded farmlands when planting should have happened, followed by months of drought, as reported by DEFRA here.

(3) The Paris Agreement was to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Despite promises and pledges, to achieve this figure, warming has continued unabated, indeed, appears to be accelerating.


Amol Rajan was in conversation with:

  • Journalist Grahaigh Jackson, host of the BBC World Service podcast the Climate Question
  • Climate scientist Professor Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change & Development, and based at the University of Bangladesh
  • Mikaela Loach, climate justice activist, currently on sabbatical as a fourth year medical student at the University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Bill McGuire, currently Emeritus Professor of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at UCL. Author of many books.
  • Sarah Bell, farmer and agri-consultant.


A transcript of this brilliant if disturbing podcast is here.

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