A sound bite from the UN Secretary-General said it best: “The era of global warming has ended,” declared Antonio Guterres, “the era of global boiling has arrived.”
If you have been watching television in recent weeks, you could hardly disagree – wildfires raging across the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu, pilots killed fighting firestorms in Canada, dozens dead fleeing flames in Algeria, 400C experienced in Britain for the first time, in China a record 52.20C.
In the United States, people who fell onto sidewalks were treated for burns, and records were set as far south as Uruguay.
Climate scientists predicted July would be the hottest month in global history. Mr Guterres went on, “Climate change is here. It is terrifying and it is just beginning.”
It was still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C and avoid the very worst of climate change, he said, “but only with dramatic, immediate climate action.”
And there’s the rub. Despite the terrifying evidence on our TV screens, there are fears in the UK that the government is considering watering down policies to tackle the climate emergency.
The issue has grown in significance since the ruling Conservatives unexpectedly won a by-election in outer London, where many voters opposed the expansion of a low-emission zone.
Now some MPs believe a shift away from net zero targets could be a vote winner in a future general election.
Highlighting the current cost of living crisis, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak assured Britons, “Yes, we are going to make progress towards net zero, but we are going to do that in a proportionate and pragmatic way that doesn’t necessarily give more hassle and more costs in people’s lives.” Will government policies risk the nation’s future for the sake of an election victory? That remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis quoted what he said was a popular saying: “God always forgives, humankind sometimes forgives, but when nature is mistreated, she never forgives.”
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Lola is a 23-year-old student at Oxford University who goes shoplifting regularly because, she says, “I can barely afford to eat.” Another thief, Ash, 25, from south London, says, “If I didn’t shoplift I’d only be able to afford packet noodles.”
The two spoke anonymously to the BBC as national statistics pointed to a sharp rise in thefts from shops and supermarkets caused by the current cost of living crisis. The co-operative movement said crime in its stores had hit record levels totalling about 1,000 cases per day.
In March, police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland recorded nearly 33,000 cases of shoplifting, a 30 per cent increase on March last year. Lola is living off a £12,000 student loan, without help from her parents, while she completes her Masters.
She said, “I only steal things I need but can’t afford, like instant coffee. How is it £7?” Ash was thrown out of work by the pandemic and that’s when the thieving began.
“The cost of living started my shoplifting,” said Ash, adding that prices had only gone up since.
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Mention professional football players and most people will think of young multi-millionaires with glamorous girlfriends and, after 5pm on Saturdays, a celebrity lifestyle and gallons of booze.
However, one of those young stars has confessed it’s not like that for everybody.
The former England and Everton midfielder, Dele Alli, says he is addicted to sleeping pills – a problem he believes is more widespread in English football than believed – and has mental health difficulties which probably stemmed from a chaotic childhood.
The 27-year-old Alli won the last of his 37 England caps in 2019 and blamed his stressful background for derailing his career. After six months in a rehab facility in America, Alli chose to share his story. He said he had been molested at the age of six by a friend of his alcoholic mother, started smoking at seven, and dealing drugs when he was eight. His football skills rescued him from that life but the addiction pressures only grew. Officials and former football stars such as Gary Lineker praised Alli for raising the issues of drugs and mental health in the nation’s favourite game for frank discussion.
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There are many different ways of looking at life and the person who posed the following questions/observations must have one of the strangest.
If a bottle of poison reaches its expiration date, is it more poisonous or no longer dangerous? Which letter is silent in the word “Scent,” the S or the C? The word “swim” upside down is still “swim”. If you find yourself feeling useless, remember that it took 20 years, trillions of dollars, thousands of lives and four presidents to replace the Taliban with the Taliban.