Friday, 14 February 2014

Environmentalists back Stern warnings on climate change and floods

Environmentalists have supported economist Nicholas Stern’s dire warning that UK flooding is linked to climate change and more can be expected unless drastic action is taken immediately.

Stern, who compiled at authoritative report for the British government in 2006, warning of orbiting costs as well as the destruction of the planet if climate change were not addressed, has claimed things are now worse.

He argues that “four of the five wettest years recorded in the UK have occurred from the year 2000 onwards. Over that same period, we have also had the seven warmest years. That is not a coincidence. There is an increasing body of evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense, in line with what is expected from fundamental physics, as the Met Office pointed out earlier this week.”
He continued: “A warmer atmosphere holds more water. Add to this the increase in sea level, particularly along the English Channel, which is making storm surges bigger, and it is clear why the risk of flooding in the UK is rising.”
Stern warned things have got a lot worse since his report was published eight years ago and urgent action is needed. “The government will have to ensure the country becomes more resilient to those impacts of climate change that cannot now be avoided, including by investing greater sums in flood defences,” said Stern.

Writer, broadcaster and advisor to the Bishops Conference of England and Wales on environmental matters, Mary Colwell pointed out that Stern is not a man given to sensationalism. 
"His warning that the series of extreme weather events since 2000, right across the world, only go to strengthen the claim that the impacts of climate change are now being felt.  It is a warning we must listen to.  It seems the world is de-stabilising and shifting to a new order in line with a higher average global temperature.  It is, quite frankly, scary," said Colwell. "We only have one course of action.  We must immediately reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to put the brakes on the rate of change in the future and we must immediately restore natural systems that will help ameliorate  the worst effects of flooding.  Emitting greenhouse gases is only one own goal humanity is constantly scoring.  We continue to mis-use the land by eroding and/or compacting soils, deforesting uplands, draining wetlands, concreting land, ripping out mangroves, channelling rivers, building on floodplains and many other practices that reduce the ability of the landscape to deal with excess water.
"We also continue to eat meat in increasing quantities.  The meat industry is responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse gases, by comparison, all the world's cars, trains, planes and boats account for a combined 13% of greenhouse gas emissions.  In other words the way western society lives is the cause of climate change and our lack of respect for the natural world is increasing the devastating effects being felt."  
The environmental expert called on the Church to "respond strongly and clearly."  
"It must be a guide to right living and a comfort in times of change.  The stakes are too high for any more hand waving and doubt.  Catholics must practice the 3 Ss - live Simply, live Sustainably and be prepared to make sacrifices," said Mrs Colwell, who expressed her concerns that once the flooding crisis subsides the urgency will also evaporate.  

Environmental writer Edward Echlin said: “The unusual damaging weather is how climate scientists warned climate change would happen. Politicians, business leaders, and news media should have listened and acted. All must now respond. We suffer climate change that is human induced through human emissions and flora destruction. Moreover we need mitigation on climate damage as well as immediate adaptation. Alternative energies are available. House, churches, schools and other roofs, should generate solar energy through PV solar panels. This is true, genuine growth.”

Environmental writer and activist Ellen Teague said: “Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation would certainly agree with Nicholas Stern that the current extreme weather is not a one-off, but part of a trend.”

“Britain has become twice as stormy in the past 50 years as climate change has forced the deep depressions that used to hit Iceland further south. Heavy winter rain will become more frequent and therefore the threat of flooding more serious. Sea level rise is an issue too, with more extreme tidal surges and storms predicted. The number of homes affected by coastal flooding in Kent, for example, is expected to triple in the next ten years,” she said.


Another development has seen  Pax Christi, Christian CND, Movement for the Abolition of War, (MAW) Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) all sign a petition calling for the government to cancel renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system and use the money for flood protection. "We urge Her Majesty's Government to cancel present and future spending on  another Trident nuclear weapon system (estimated at £100 billion) and to spend some of the  money saved now and in the future on coastal protection and  inland flooding defences," says the petition.

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