For many Europeans, 2007 will be remembered as the year when climate change hit home.
With severe flooding in Sheffield, Gloucestershire and elsewhere in England combined with record heat waves in the continent, the public are beginning to wake up to the fact that the scientific predictions over recent decades have been broadly accurate so far. The planet is getting warmer and the climate is changing.
It is particularly depressing, therefore, to find our political leaders responding to this crisis by arguing over who ought to control the Arctic - a region now more accessible than ever due to the melting of the polar ice caps. All the main players are guilty of this irrelevance - Russia, the United States, Canada, even Denmark is staking its claim.
At stake, of course, is access to the Arctic's vast supplies of oil, hitherto inaccessible. Climate change (caused in large measure by human activity, most significantly the burning of fossil fuels)
is now making these oil fields accessible and, like lemmings, the northern hemisphere's political leaders are rushing towards the edge of the Arctic shelf it in search of the crude oil.
Why are they so blind? Can they not see that the carbon era is over? We need more oil like we need foot and mouth. When will they sanction genuine and highly-funded research into alternative energy sources - sources which have been known about for decades? In short, when will our leaders show some leadership?
I've since come across the following post by Clint White that mocks this new gold rush far more effectively than I could. Well done!