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Climate change is here, we can no longer ignore it

We face a 'pretty horrible situation for the future' unless we take action to control the rising global temperature, says NCE editor Antony Oliver.
I had the privilege of listening to a presentation by Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) last week. It was as inspiring as it was scary.
Dr Pachauri restated what we now all know too well: that, according to IPPC research, we face "a pretty horrible situation for the future" unless we take action to control the rising global temperature.
It was disappointing therefore that broadcasting watchdog Ofcom did not take a stronger line this week over Channel Four's flawed documentary "The Great Global Warming Swindle" which did so much to undermine public interest in climate change mitigation
Make no mistake the real stats still turn heads. As Dr Pachauri explained, up to 1.2bn people could face increased water stress in Asia by 2020; crop production in Africa could fall 50% by 2020 and perhaps 90% by 2100. And in Europe we could see the risk of flood damage rise twenty-fold by 2080.
The reality is that we can't afford to continue to have doubts about whether or not climate change is happening. And we cannot afford to harbour any doubts that the current serious situation is largely our own making. Recent research in Australia has indicated that we have just 12 years to act before the situation becomes irreversible.
So perhaps more importantly we also cannot pretend that there is nothing we can do about the problem. As individuals and as a society we must face up to the reality that action is needed now to change the way that we live our lives.
"Society has to get involved," said Dr Pachauri. "Climate change fatigue hasn't set in to the extent that we need to be pessimistic. We need to bring about a shift in behaviour."
Fortunately more and more people within the civil engineering profession now understand the critical role that we play in not just adapting to our changing climate but also in leading the debate on and design of a low carbon future.
In fact we are increasingly surrounded in the profession by highly motivated young engineers who don't just understand the issue but are actively engaged in doing something about it.
For this reason I am once again looking forward to judging the entries to this year's NCE Graduate of the Year awards which launches this week. . We have asked entrants to discuss the issue of eco-towns and explain their thoughts on how engineers can lead the development of low carbon living.
I have no doubt that the competition will produce some very stimulating and thought provoking responses and along the way identify the professions future (maybe even current) leaders.
Rest assured that NCE will give these ideas, propositions and individuals the oxygen of publicity that they need. And like Channel Four we believe in open debate on this vital issue.
However unlike Channel Four we understand that the debate has moved beyond if and is firmly into how, when and who.

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