SIR David Attenborough has warned us that right now we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change.

If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us that, to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C, we need to reduce global CO2 emissions by 45 per cent in the next 12 years, reaching zero carbon around 2050 and negative emissions beyond that.

Without wishing to appear xenophobic, it is hard to see how attracting increasing numbers of tourists from distant countries helps us to reduce global emissions (Gazette, December 6, 'Lakes duo sell area to Chinese').

Should we stop promoting the Lake District abroad? Should we encourage people to explore places nearer to where they live? Have we reached 'peak tourism'? Is mass tourism sustainable in a low-carbon future?

Should the cost to the environment be included in everything we do? Should airlines and other businesses spend their profits removing the CO2 they've emitted back out of the atmosphere, before paying any bonuses to executives or dividends to shareholders?

Can we modify our behaviour for the sake of future generations? Can we learn to live more simple lives, with less impact on the environment?

If we do not act soon, we risk reaching tipping points in Earth's natural systems, which make runaway global warming inevitable.

Vince Devlin