Here’s what I’m saying in this week’s AJ in response to Amanda Baillieu’s editorial in last week’s BD. Please post comments below.
I’m all in favour of a good debate. And maybe that’s what Amanda Baillieu, editor of Building Design, wanted to spark with last week’s editorial deriding the current government and the RIBA’s position on climate change. However, suggesting that we should seriously consider ‘the growing wealth of scientific evidence’ that climate change is not man-made, is utter nonsense. Thousands of international scientists have contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research which documents the changing climate. In September, the United Nations Environment Programme released its Climate Change Science Compendium 2009 which states that the rate of change is more rapid even than that predicted by the IPCC. The vast majority of peer-reviewed scientific research concurs.
Public perception does not necessarily follow suit. HSBC’s global Climate Confidence Monitor shows fewer people citing climate change as a primary concern, down to 34 per cent in 2009 from 43 per cent in 2007. So let’s bring on the debate, air the sceptics’ views and set the record straight. I am not a climate scientist, but it doesn’t require detailed scientific knowledge to see that we are living beyond our means. I applaud the RIBA’s position on climate change and wish that more of the profession would heed its wake-up call. I would even say that the RIBA has been slow to champion the green agenda. Under Sunand Prasad, it endorsed the Global Commons Institute’s Contraction and Convergence framework, published its climate change toolkits and launched the speaker series, of which secretary of state for environment Hilary Benn was part.
Benn’s speech, on 28 October at the RIBA, was not the prophecy of doom that Baillieu ascribes to him, but rather an intelligent and articulate presentation of the facts on how climate change is likely to impact the UK and what government is doing about it. Benn may not have filled the hall, but it is a journalistic leap to conclude that this was due to evidence that climate change is not man-made. Weariness with sustainability is a serious matter. We all tire of claims that every new project is the latest low-carbon exemplar. Yet I am encouraged by the fact that despite the financial crisis, the appetite for low-carbon design has not diminished. The AJ has published numerous inspirational examples, including Michael Pawlyn’s Sahara Forest product, Baca Architects’ LifE project and Bennetts Associates’ Ashburton Court.
Journalistic endeavour would be better spent showcasing pioneering projects and disseminating best practice. It’s alarming to see a widely-read journal do otherwise.
Please post a comment below.
Filed under: Green practice