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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.

“It


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


come.”

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.

Gardeners


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.

As


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.

Hot


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.

Flash


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.

Racing


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.

Colin


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 http://www.defra.gov.uk/.

To download a copy of the report, toolkit and images visit: http://www.climatechangeandme.net/

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