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Shocking face of the future

PUBLISHED: 12:09 08 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:22 28 March 2014

MARCH 7, 2008: The face of the South East of England could change forever within 50
years if opportunities to lessen the impacts of climate change are not
taken now, according to a booklet released (see below).

Buckled rail

lines, parched golf courses, disappearing wildlife and freak weather

delivering alternating flood and drought could be part of a

dramatically changed way of life illustrated in the booklet which

delivers a stark but simple message: If you love England, act now to

save what makes it special.

Without action, by people and

government, everything from sport to gardening, house prices to

hedgehogs and farming to fishing could undergo some form of change. The

booklet raises awareness of what hotter drier summers, water shortages,

flash floods and storms would mean to the region. It comes with a

toolkit to help people communicate the reality of climate change and

inspire everyone to take action.

Our changing climate, our

changing lives - South East is produced by Tomorrow’s England, a

coalition of 11 organisations ranging from the National Trust to the

National Federation of Women’s Institutes, and from the Woodland Trust

to WWF-UK. (3)

“An increase in average global temperature of

more than two degrees centigrade will have catastrophic results for our

planet. Closer to home, the way we travel to work, the sports we play,

our health, and our environment could all be affected by shifting

weather patterns,” explains Colin Butfield, head of campaigns at WWF-UK.


is also essential for the government to take a lead now with action to

reduce our carbon emissions by including the 80% target for CO2

reduction by 2050 in the Climate Change Bill, currently being debated

in Parliament.”

Andrea Davies, senior campaigner at the Campaign

to Protect Rural England, commented: “The changes which will alter the

appearance of so many of our cherished landscapes in the South East are

a wake-up call. Climate change presents us with huge challenges, but

there are also opportunities for everyone to take action at a personal

and a local level to reduce the impacts now and for generations to


Ed Pomfret, head of campaigns at the Woodland Trust,

added: “Climate change is already having a profound effect on the

natural environment including irreplaceable habitats like ancient

woodland, raising life changing implications for us all. This is a

valuable document which not only presents a snapshot of how that might

affect everyday life, but also provides ideas for what we can do to

make a real difference.”

More than two thirds of land in the

South East is farmed with traditional crops such as potatoes, apples

and strawberries. Warmer weather could see this landscape altered with

the introduction of figs, soya and even olives, suggests the report.


would have to learn about new, more exotic species of plants and trees.

By 2050 favourites like delphiniums and lupins could be replaced by

pomegranates, citrus fruits and apricots.
Models suggest beech and

oak trees would come under threat from gales, water logging and

drought. Some birds could lose their natural habitats and vanish from

the region as new species
like the black kite and the great reed

warbler take up residence. The hedgehog, already in decline, could be

extinct by 2025 if its habitual food of slugs literally dries up.


the Mediterranean becomes too hot as a comfortable holiday destination,

the south coast would become a more desirable alternative with August

temperatures regularly in excess of 30ºC. This would reduce carbon

emissions from air travel and airport expansion; however, the increased

heat could prove disastrous for transport across the region.


spells could cause chaos on the roads as road surfaces suffer. On the

trains, speed restrictions from buckled and fractured rails or

trackside fires would become the norm but frozen points would be a

thing of the past.

These higher temperatures would also impact

on the health of the region. Scientists say the death rate increases

3.3 per cent for every degree rise in temperature above 21.5C while

instances of food poisoning would become more frequent.


floods and storm surges are set to increase as the climate changes;

this will particularly affect the low-lying South East, impacting on

thousands of homes and businesses. Water demand in the region is due to

rise by 11% by 2030, and water will become more scarce and expensive.

Hosepipe bans are likely to become permanent in many places.


at Cowes may increasingly be disturbed by violent summer storms and

Henley regatta could be flooded out in a summer flash flood on the

Thames. Wetter winters would mean that rain stops play at football

grounds across the region.

If the grass burns to a crisp and

water restrictions are in place in the summer, golf, cricket and

football could all be disrupted. Falling river levels could impact on

fish stocks.

With predictions that sea levels will rise by at

least 34cm by 2050 in the English Channel, beaches along the coast

could disappear and Henry VIII’s artillery castles along the South

coast could all be affected by increased coastal erosion.


Butfield added: “We are already witnessing changes in our climate in

the South East, along with every other part of the country. Such severe

scenarios could be lessened as we still have the power to make changes

for the better. The impact of homes on the environment can easily be

decreased, for instance, with new developments built to high

eco-standards and renewable energy playing an increasing role in

providing our energy needs.”

Our changing climate, our changing lives - South East is produced by Tomorrow’s England, a joint initiative funded by Defra

To download a copy of the report, toolkit and images visit:


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