As the snow falls over Central London, and the prospects for a deal on climate change ebb away in Copenhagen, I find myself wondering whether our approach is the correct one.
Alright, I admit, I am a sceptic on the issue of climate change. It isn't that I dispute the science - it is clear that the chemistry is sound enough - but, as a statistician, I was trained to question any set of numbers presented to me. I'm not keen on the notion of calling those with dispute the science 'deniers' either, it all smacks of polarising the debate to the point where it isn't a debate, more a shouting match.
My scepticism is rooted in the message. Cut our emissions, we are told, and the polar icecaps won't melt. Or they may not. Or something. Whatever. The problem is that we are all aware that the climate does change, and it has in the past. If my history is correct, at one point, hippopotami grazed in the Thames Valley, which leads one to assume that it was a bit warmer here then.
The real question is, what impact does our behaviour have on the trend? Doubtless, our interference isn't helping - it seldom does. And how do we remedy that?
Actually, there are plenty of quite convincing reasons for acting, many of which appeal to something more immediate and tangible - our financial wellbeing. If I can insulate my home, I'll save money on my fuel bill, use less in the way of valuable and finite fossil fuels, and cause less in the way of carbon emissions. Like most people, I understand the former, because my wallet is slightly heavier as a result.
If, in my office, I turn the thermostat down by one degree, the cost to my employer is reduced and, as a civil servant, the cost of running the Department I work in is reduced, thus freeing up more money for nurses, teachers and policemen (and wouldn't you rather have more of them than of me?). Alternatively, it reduces the national debt - and every little counts...
As a Parish Councillor, I could replace our old streetlights with more efficient ones, reducing our electricity bill and allowing me to keep the precept low.
There is another consideration, the fact that we British are animal lovers. Tell us about some cute animal whose habitat is threatened, and we'll be there, raising funds to create places for the lesser-spotted this, or the hairy-nosed that, to live.
So, perhaps the way to encourage the British to change our habits is to appeal to our greed and our love of cute, furry animals. And on the way, we might well unintentionally save the planet...