Merry Christmas! Its that time of year again for students – juggling festivities with essay writing and revising for the January exams. I feel quite lucky this year in that I don’t have any January exams, but I do have an essay to write and my dissertation to work on. Following on from the popular science article, the second and final piece of assessed work for Global Environmental Change is to write a policy document ‘for David Cameron’. This is a 3000 word essay that will ‘end up on Cameron’s desk’ and asses the vulnerabilities and impacts of a particularly location to climate change, and recommend adaptation strategies to minimise the impacts. For my essay I chose to look at the UK. Out there I know! The reason behind choosing the UK was that I always find when something is more relevant to my interests, I am more likely to work harder and succeed. I’ve always wondered what impact climate change would have on us and this has been the perfect opportunity for me to delve deeper and even come up with my own adaptation solutions.
Ironically, although the UK is one of the biggest drivers of climate change, with the start of the industrial revolution, infinite growth ideology and perpetuation of our high-consumption lifestyles, the risks of climate change are relatively low compared to developing countries in other areas of the world. This is in part due to our geographical positioning, and also our higher capacity to adapt. So what what are the main risks for climate change on the UK? In brief summary of what I’ve found so far, the 3 biggest will be:
- Temperature rise – more so in summer than winter, with more frequent extreme heatwave events
- Flooding – from the sea, rivers and winter precipitation
- Water shortages – water will become more scarce particularly during periods of drought
It is also important to think about how climate change will impact other countries in the world, and what this will mean for the UK in terms of trade imports and political stability. You just need to switch on the news to know we are already seeing these effects of climate change.
Check out David Attenborough’s hour long documentary about what climate change means for the UK:
Despite the UK’s general high capacity to adapt, there are many areas and groups of vulnerable people that are likely to be hit hardest in the UK. These include people in coastal regions and living around rivers, and those in cities with poor building and travel infrastructure to withstand heatwaves. In terms of groups of people, the elderly, children, disabled, ill or those isolated will be more vulnerable, alongside poor or ethnic minority groups that have less access to resources and knowledge of how to adapt, whether due to financial or communication reasons.
Hence it will be up to all of us to start building a more resilient UK for the most vulnerable communities. At the same time mitigation is important as a complementary strategy – we do need to cut down on our greenhouse gas emissions, in order to lower the magnitude of climate change, and reduce the scale of adaptation required. This is also vital to protect other countries in the world that will be hit much harder by rising temperatures and extreme weather events that will follow.
As for adaptation, I will write another post soon with my findings and suggestions for David Cameron. Thanks for reading, have a great holiday!