A controversial third runway has been approved for Heathrow Airport, and greenhouse gas emissions are expected to soar because of it. In short, 2016 has been a bad year for the UK.
After holding a controversial public referendum on whether or not to leave the EU, voters stunned the rest of the world by choosing to pull the plug on their long-standing relationship with Europe. As a result, the government fell apart almost immediately: Prime Minister David Cameron resigned in the wake of the referendum, and unelected Theresa May took the helm of the newly single Britain.
Within her first few days in office, May shut down the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, which triggered outrage from other governmental officials. Ed Miliband, former leader of the opposition party, tweeted the following response:
DECC abolition just plain stupid. Climate not even mentioned in new dept. title. Matters because depts shape priorities shape outcomes.— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) July 14, 2016
In the months following Brexit, the UK economy has been in freefall, and leading banks currently stationed in London are preparing to flee the country as the UK prepares to finalize their divorce from Europe. The economic future of Britain is bleak, and once the reality of Brexit sets in, the threat of a massive recession looms over the future of England.
The Controversial Third Runway
The potential recession is perhaps why the government stamped its approval on the expansion of Heathrow Airport, which is already a colossal-sized airport with five terminals and two runways. The threat of Brexit appeared to be front-and-center in the decision, with Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, claiming that the additional runway would support trade and jobs.
A business editor for the BBC wrote:
“If projections for a fairly sharp post-Brexit slowdown in the economy next year are correct, then we may need this spending boost.”
However, the implications of a third runway are greater than merely providing the UK with a new nose for the one they’ve just cut off.
As has been widely reported, the earth’s atmospheric CO2 levels have reached a catastrophic 400 ppm. In a report released by Greenpeace, adding a third runway will mean that Heathrow Airport will become the UK’s leading source of CO2 emissions. Currently, Heathrow Airport is responsible for more CO2 emissions than any other airport in the world.
A third runway will double the amount of planes flying in and out of the UK, and “at full capacity, the airport would emit 23.6 million tons of CO2 every year — that’s equivalent to the emissions of 54 of the least polluting countries combined.”
The effects of global warming will be felt by everyone, but those in developing nations will be hit the hardest. Only 5% of the world’s population has ever flown in an airplane.
For scientists, environmentalists, and those endowed with the ability to think critically, climate change is a fact. But it’s becoming tragically obvious that climate denial has moved from the lunatic fringe to the mainstream governing bodies of major nations. Even with the consequences of climate change unfurling before us, it still appears that the world is willing to barter our future as a species for a handful of gold.