British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stated the following in his speech The Locust Years in November 1936 to the House of Commons:
The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequence ...
Although his words related to the turbulent political situation at that time in the wake of devastating wars and costly errors, these words have relevance to 21st century issues as well, and can be viewed as a stern warning to the decision-makers of today that the days of reckless living, in which decisions are based on immediate harms or gains, are over.
Seventy-odd years after Churchill uttered these prophetic words, and as the consequences of our forefathers' decisions are starting to have an impact, the realisation is dawning that a period of consequence means that the preferences which are applied will change the Earth's landscape and that of its inhabitants.
Churchill's statement has become a mantra for environmental activists because it so eloquently summarises the environmental climate we live in. Since the industrial revolution, civilisation has boomed. Natural resources such as coal, water and wood have been used recklessly at the will of the consumer, often without due recognition of the fact that once a non-renewable resource is exhausted, there is no way of replenishing it. According to some environmentalists, electricity has been produced in the least expensive, but often most harmful ways - particularly in the case of some of the coal-fired power stations.