Urgent climate action needed after record temperatures
Last week’s record temperatures in the UK have shown that urgent action is needed to tackle climate change, says a Midlands green energy expert.
After Britain’s hottest day last Tuesday when thermometers topped 40C for the first time ever, it proved the earth is getting dangerously warmer as the Met Office issued its first red extreme heat warning.
“Although many enjoyed the good weather,” said Ron Fox, “it also demonstrated how our country and the rest of the world are ill prepared to cope with these extremes.”
Many rail services were suspended, some schools were closed, wildfires broke out and the London Fire Brigade said it had its busiest days since the Second World War after they declared a major incident following blazes in the capital.
In Europe hundreds of heat-related deaths were reported while farmers are experiencing a prolonged drought.
Ron said the extreme weather is due to the increase in greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat in the atmosphere and instead of escaping into space, they push up the earth’s temperatures.
He said over the last 200 years average global temperatures have gone up by 1.2C. Even if the world cuts net emissions to zero they are still forecast to rise by as much as 4C above pre-industrial levels which could have catastrophic consequences.
The Met Office estimates that the kind of very hot summers which used to be every 100-300 years could be seen as often as every three years by the end of this century.
“I agree with the government’s advisory committee on climate change, which has said adapting to higher temperatures is ‘under resourced, underfunded and ignored’,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science Innovation Park.
In its latest report the committee found that only five of 34 sectors they had looked at had shown much progress over the last two years.
“They make some excellent proposals,” said Ron, “which I hope the government will give top priority to.”
As well as hitting net zero the committee wants to:
- Upgrade infrastructure such as transport and power lines to minimise costly weather-driven disruptions to the economy.
- Produce a plan on how to manage water resources which may become scarcer.
- Ensure homes are better insulated.
- Help agriculture facing problems with soil erosion, changes in growing seasons, shifts to new crops and risks from invasive diseases.
- Provide more resources for emergency services to cope with increased risks of fires and floods.
“The only encouraging sign from all this,” said Ron, “is that ambitious net zero targets are leading to big advances in technology. Already the cost of producing wind power or running an electric car has fallen far below the cost of fossil fuel alternatives.
“Also, carbon emissions per capita in the UK peaked in the early 1970s at nearly 12 tonnes to less than 5 tonnes each. The problem is that emissions have risen in other countries so the world now emits 34 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, CO2, each year – more than five times as much in 1950.
“Although adapting to climate change will carry costs, mitigating the damage may be an economic opportunity leading to high tech and industrial job opportunities,” he concluded.
For more information on how to cut your carbon footprint, call Ron on 0845 4746641.
Caption: Rising world temperatures will lead to more drought which this garden is experiencing already.