Opinion: 'Heatwave a message from mother nature', writes Peterborough Labour leader Shaz Nawaz

Labour leader councillor Shaz Nawaz gives an ‘Opposing Message’ in his latest column.
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This column is being written later than usual. This is not because of a lack of things to discuss: like many, I have spent the past few days co-ordinating my activities, political, personal and business, around the heat.

I know some may harken back to the Summer of 1976, but this was an unprecedented event.

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I know, like many, I was appalled by the images of the fires which broke out.

Leicestershire Fire Service on a call-out today to a grass fire in record temperatures for the countyLeicestershire Fire Service on a call-out today to a grass fire in record temperatures for the county
Leicestershire Fire Service on a call-out today to a grass fire in record temperatures for the county

One statistic presented by London Mayor Sadiq Khan jumped out at me, on a normal day, the London Fire Brigade gets 300 calls, at the time he spoke, he stated that there had been over 1500.

The city’s facilities could not cope

It's tempting to treat disasters with calm and aplomb; this is, after all, Britain. “Keep Calm and Carry On” could very well be written on the Union flag.

However, there is a time to pay attention: this is one of those times.

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We shouldn’t forget what has happened because the temperatures are moderating, and such events are thankfully rare.

There is no doubt that we have been dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in massive amounts.

There is no doubt that the environment is changing. There are changes to the environment which happens due to natural processes; however, we must take action to rule our influence out as far as possible.

Just because a mitigation wouldn’t necessarily be 100% effective does not make it wrong; what we would get out of it would be an economy that wouldn’t rely on fossil fuels any longer.

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We would, at least, no longer be held hostage by hostile regimes like Russia.

Meanwhile, it didn’t escape my attention that the Tory Leadership candidates seem to be in a race with each other to show their anti-green credentials.

I recall Liz Truss saying that she would get rid of the Green Levy. Apparently, this would give back £150 to bill payers.

For many, this is no small amount. However, given the scale of the price rises in train, this is less than a drop in the bucket.

So what’s the point?

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It appears performative, and it’s for the benefit of a very small audience which may believe that being concerned by the heat wave is the province of “snowflakes”.

I would remind this particular audience that many hospitals are not equipped with air conditioning.

The very old and the very young are particularly harmed by the heat. It will take some time to calculate, but no doubt we are about to find out the heat took a heavy toll. Shouldn’t we do everything possible to try and prevent further deaths?

Or is that less important than performing some sort of act of bravado which flies in the face of accepted science?

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Mother Nature has sent us a very stark message if we care to hear it.

Covid showed us our vulnerability, the heatwave was a further illustration.

We should respect the environment and do our best to protect it.

If we degrade or destroy it, we may console ourselves with a few extra pounds in our pocket: but that won’t buy a new planet.

I fear that the Tories aren’t hearing this message.

I believe it will take a change of government before we embark on any meaningful action.