All but the most extreme end of the debate now accept that climate change is not only happening but that it is largely, if not entirely, man-made. There are of course a number of very prominent global figures, mainly in the US, that suggest it is not us that is doing it and so not us that should do anything about it. These people are normally in the slightly funny and highly worrying minority. But what does it all mean for us now? For years it has been a discussion based on the far future; the future, however, is very much here!
Living Underground or Like Mad Max
There is no doubt we have all seen images of what the future may look like if climate change is left unchecked. Deserts where cities once were and homes being build underground to avoid massive doses of UV radiation. Let’s not forget films like The Day After Tomorrow where snow is more of an issue due to the moving Gulf Stream. But these visions, as realistic as some of them may be, are all visions of a far future. The discussion about climate change is so geared towards this extreme that a great many people are failing to notice the future is actually happening now.
Many parts of the world have suffered flooding problems for as long as humanity has lived there but in other places it is all still quite new. Take the UK for example, flooding was really not something on the home builders’ radar 30 years ago. Of course there were areas of high risk next to rivers etc but generally it was a niche problem in certain areas. It is now, however, something that is not only a major consideration in planning regulations with companies like www.unda.co.uk existing almost solely to provide flood risk assessments but also a worryingly common occurrence.
Some theories are suggesting the flood causing rain is starting earlier and because rainfall is becoming more common at certain times the soils and water tables are full by the time the traditional flood risk period arrives. The fact that more and more areas are being built on, farmed unsustainably and deforested is compounding this issue. So it is not all about climate change but our actions in removing natural flood defence is certainly magnifying the issue when it comes to flooding.
As with flooding there is a school of thought that suggests we all feel like there are more damaging storms globally because of the way news is reported. This is certainly a factor, as a population most people in the West certainly have access to mobile rolling news and nothing makes the news faster than a scary storm! Certainly in the UK. However there is no doubt the frequency of damaging storms is increasing or has increased in recent years. For countries like Antigua, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and states in the US like Miami it has certainly been a bad year for storms . 2017 was in fact called a hyperactive hurricane season and was the 5th most active season on record. Clearly there have been bad periods in the past but climate change, once again, will not be helping matters and is likely to bring more hyperactive seasons in the very near future. The UK, although suffering less severe storms, is also in the grip of a very active storm season which can at least partly be put down to changing climate conditions.
Preparation and Avoidance
The solution to these problems was once discussed only as avoidance tactics. So initially the debates were all about mitigating the effects by slowing the production of greenhouse gas production like CO2 and Methane. That is still important but we are now finding ourselves in the situation where we need to start really working on how to physically protect people from the fallout of climate change. So as well as spending on CO2 reduction we also need to be spending on flood protection, hurricane shelters and hurricane proof buildings. This kind of advice from the UK Government is a good example..We need to help less well-off nations prepare for more storms, more flooding and more damage.
We should be careful not to blame every day of bad weather on climate change, every dry day or week and every storm on it but it is clear that change is happening and people are suffering as a result in many parts of the world. There is nothing new for people to do other than keep recycling, keep car pooling, riding bikes instead of driving and generally being frugal with energy. However, being aware and supportive of alternative energy production is important in everyday life and when it comes to voting in elections. There is no doubt we will see more and more bad weather and flooding issues and the more we prepare the better we will do in the coming years.