There are many scary things happening across the planet right now.

One benefit of sitting on an island at the end of the world is that in some ways we're like outside observers, thinking the horrors affecting other countries won't touch us, that Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North America are so far away we're immune from whatever disaster or threat is story of the day.

But that fantasy is doomed to be short-lived.

The marvels of the modern world that have shrunk the globe by making travel and communication so quick, effective and easy, ensure that despite our far-flung position we are very much an active participant in international activity, and vulnerable.

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But the worst threat isn't necessarily the virulent Ebola or the rising Islamic State or any other number of modern ills - perhaps the worst threat is the one we've known about for years, and have had the ability to act on for ages - a threat that is creating havoc right now, and will continue to have a devastating effect as we grow old and as our children and grandchildren grow old.

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this week released an ominous report that basically says time is running out to take decisive action.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side."

To avoid a 2C increase in global average temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions would need to fall by 70 per cent by 2050 - just over 25 years away - and to zero by the end of the century.

It's almost unthinkable - but so are the worst-case scenarios, and for many of us we're looking at predictions affecting the world within our children's and grandchildren's lifetimes.

Our government is taking climate change seriously, but we do have to ask if it is taking it seriously enough.

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We have to find a balance between the here and now and a world decades into the future, and a government that lives from one three-year-cycle to the next needs to keep at least one wary eye on the decades ahead and ask itself whether that balance gives enough weighting to our uncertain future.