Climate Change and Business Parks – a 1991 article

There are people still around in Manchester who have been campaigning – with decency and diligence – for decades. Some of them were involved in the Manchester Wildlife Group, which had a wonderful newsletter called the Magpie. The editor, Ian Brown, very kindly gave me all his copies, which I’ve turned into pdfs and uploaded here. I’m doing a local history/digital humanities around this (1). Over the coming weeks, I will put up a lot of articles as html. There are other plans afoot, but for now, this will be A Start…

Brown, I. (1991) Hot Offices. Magpie 19, p.2-3.

Hot Offices by Ian Brown

Do business parks cause “Global Warming”? (He’s off again – Ed) I think that they do at least make a minor contribution. When offices are located at the regional centre, which in our case is Manchester City Centre, then they can easily be accessed by public transport from almost every part of Greater Manchester.

Some may choose to travel by car but bus and train are a viable and easy alternative. The same applies to district centres for people living within the same district. Conversely, business parks, scattered randomly on open spaces, do not benefit from public transport links with all parts of the conurbation. They may be on a bus route, or even a rail route, but access may entail a quite tortuous journey involving several changes of bus and/or train. It would be comforting to think that business parks would be staffed by mostly local people, who could cycle or walk to work, but judging by the generous car parking provision of such places, it seems that most employees will drive there. We cannot as yet dictate where people  live in relation to their work.

So  it would seem that business parks will bring about an increase in private car mileage. The main by-product of the internal combustion engine  is carbon dioxide (C02), which is a principal “Greenhouse Gas”. The Pre-industrial Revolution level of C02 in the atmosphere was about 280 parts per million (p.p.m) and the 1958 level was 315 p.p.m, hardly a trace .. It is currently increasing by at least 1.5 p.p.m annually and rising. In about 140 years from now, earlier if we increase use of carbon based fuels, atmospheric C02 will double from Pre-industrial Revolution level. It is now generally accepted that this increase will lead to global warming: by how much is not certain, but 100 years ago, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius calculated that average global temperature would rise by as much as 5 deg. C. What will happen is anybody’s guess but the atmosphere and climate will be different. Scientists now (generally) agree that we have already pumped so much gas (C02) into the air that a significant rise in temperature, and a subsequent shift in weather is inevitable.”

The main point is that, whilst we may be able to live with some global warming, an increase in the increase of C02 in the air may create conditions which are not tolerable to life on earth. We should be doing everything to reduce C02 emissions, and this includes a drastic reduction in the use of cars and lorries. Public transport, particularly by rail (if used to a reasonable capacity), is far more environmentally friendly than the motor car. At the Inst. of Geographers’ annual conference, Dr. John Roberts of Transport and Environment Studies, a London Consultancy, said better city planning was needed so that people could walk to the shops, work etc. “Virtually all car intensive projects should be refused planning permission,” he said. Out of centre business parks will surely lead to more car use and they should be discouraged. A little bit too much global warming is bad for you.


(1) I am massively behind on a couple of other history projects. I am using The Magpie to gain skills, momentum etc and then I WILL tackle those…

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