AN ‘OPEN LETTER’ TO FRANCES WILKINSON, PLANNING OFFICER, NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTRY COUNCIL, ABOUT HER ‘DISMISSIVE’ RESPONSE TO SCIENTISTS’ TESTIMONY RE. THE PROPOSED OPEN-CAST MINE, NEAR DRURIDGE BAY, SENT ON 6TH JULY 2016
An extract of this letter was published under the heading, “Opencast – Don’t dismiss our concerns” in the Northumberland Gazette, on 17th July 2016
Please note that the author is writing only in a personal capacity, and as Development Coordinator of North East CALL TO ACTION.
Dear Frances Wilkinson,
I was astonished, indeed shocked and upset, that I failed to hear the words “climate change” so much as pass your lips, during the lengthy, detailed, and well-delivered summary of your Report to the Strategic Planning Committee yesterday. [I did listen carefully, but I might be mistaken – it has been known! If so, please let me know.]
Similarly, in your Report, you stated that, “The burning of the coal that would be extracted from the site would contribute to CO2 emissions. Establishing the extent of this would be based on very generic estimates and assumptions and so little reliance could be placed on any conclusions” (p. 57).
Do you really think that can so lightly (and so tritely) dismiss the emphatic warnings of the folly of this proposal by six climate and environmental scientists of international renown, three of whom are members of a university nearby, who took time out from their busy schedules to address this issue? Did you or your colleagues even take the trouble to consider them? I believe your treatment of my distinguished colleagues has been – yes, ‘dismissive’ is the word, even discourteous. They deserved better from you – and from me they deserve an apology for wasting their valuable time. [For a more detailed treatment of your statement, see the Appendix provided.]
According to Lord Robert May, then President of the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, “Never have we faced such a global threat. The longer we procrastinate. The more difficult the task becomes.” That was in 2006, and here we are in 2016 planning to create a massive new coal mine – it simply beggars belief!
But such warning and appeals for urgent and radical action have been made repeatedly. For example, in 2009, twenty Nobel Prize winners, the world’s finest scientific minds, gathered for the St James’s Palace Symposium to assess the evidence for man-made climate change. In their ‘Memorandum’, they declared, “We know what needs to be done. We cannot wait until it is too late. We cannot wait until what we value most is lost”.
I conclude with the words of someone who, like me, is a scientist but not a climate scientist; and also, like me, a grandparent. I commend them to you, whatever your family circumstances: “How could I look my grandchildren in the eye and say I knew about this and did nothing?” (Sir David Attenborough)
Dr David Golding CBE
Development Coordinator, North East CALL TO ACTION