Eye on the County:

Chris Dady on why Norfolk is the most at-risk county in the UK from the ef­fects of global warm­ing

Norfolk - - INSIDE - Chris Dady, chair­man, Cam­paign for the Pro­tec­tion of Ru­ral Eng­land Norfolk

CPRE warn­ing about flood risks to Norfolk

Our daily round of news is so full of ma­jor is­sues and tragedy, it is no sur­prise the sub­ject of cli­mate change gets lost. Yet many tell us it is by far the big­gest threat we face.

When we do read about the im­pact that pol­lu­tion is hav­ing on our planet, it some­times seems it is not a bad thing. Norfolk po­ten­tially be­com­ing a world lead­ing wine-pro­duc­ing re­gion is an at­trac­tive thought and a tem­per­a­ture in­crease of 3C to 5C at the end of the cen­tury brings thoughts of balmy hol­i­days on our doorstep.

How­ever, the im­pact from low lev­els of global warm­ing is cat­a­strophic and we are warned that Norfolk is the most at-risk county in main­land UK. Fac­tors in­clude coastal ero­sion, flood­ing and lack of rain­fall.

Cli­mate change brings ex­treme weather events. Un­usu­ally high tem­per­a­tures have im­pacts such as an in­crease in the death rate (70,000 peo­ple in Europe died from the ef­fects of tem­per­a­tures reach­ing 40C in 2003), coun­try­side fires such as the ones we ex­pe­ri­enced last year, reg­u­lar droughts and wa­ter short­ages. All of these things put an ad­di­tional and mas­sive strain on our over-stretched ser­vices in­clud­ing health.

Ex­treme weather events can bring ma­jor flood­ing. Be­ing low­ly­ing we are at risk of sea level rises driven by melt­ing po­lar ice.

Even if we in­crease pro­tec­tion mea­sures along our whole coast­line, the po­ten­tial for ma­jor floods from height­ened and more fre­quent storm surges puts huge ar­eas of Norfolk at grave risk. One pre­dic­tion is that the Norfolk Broads could be en­tirely wiped out this cen­tury and Nor­wich Next-the-Sea is not such a far­fetched con­cept.

Our fish­ing in­dus­try is un­der more threat from cli­mate change than from any agree­ments with Europe. In­creases in global pol­lu­tion is chang­ing the acid­ity in our seas, with a di­rect af­fect on marine life – even if we man­age to con­trol plas­tic pol­lu­tion.

We are not im­mune to chal­lenges from else­where. Can you imag­ine the im­pact of mass mi­gra­tion from Africa into Europe as in­creas­ing ar­eas of that coun­try be­come in­ca­pable of sup­port­ing hu­man life?

The po­ten­tial for a mass mi­gra­tion could be trig­gered be­fore a 3C in­crease in the av­er­age global tem­per­a­ture and an in­crease of that mag­ni­tude is now pre­dicted within the life­time of to­day’s chil­dren.

The ‘dooms­day’ pre­dic­tions for the im­pact of cli­mate change are even more se­vere, with the abil­ity of the planet to sup­port any­thing other than a much di­min­ished pop­u­la­tion be­ing a re­al­ity at a 5C tem­per­a­ture in­crease, which is at the top end of the con­ser­va­tive tem­per­a­ture change pre­dic­tion by the year 2100.

It seems we can­not avoid the im­pacts of cli­mate change, but there is still a chance of hav­ing a sus­tain­able, beau­ti­ful and vi­able Norfolk for our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. We have to take ac­tion and make sac­ri­fices now if that is to be a re­al­ity.

We can pro­tect the planet for the fu­ture by only vot­ing for politi­cians and pur­chas­ing goods from com­pa­nies who put the en­vi­ron­ment first. We will have to ac­cept changes to our life­styles now, in­clud­ing diet, be very mind­ful about elec­tric­ity and wa­ter con­sump­tion, not ex­pect sea­sonal food­stuffs to be avail­able all year, use our cars only for jour­neys where we can­not walk, cy­cle or use pub­lic trans­port and our hol­i­days will need to taken closer to home.

Norfolk of­fers us all so much, it is in it­self all the com­pen­sa­tion we should ever need and we should strive to pro­tect it.

www.cprenor­folk.org.uk

ABOVE:Wa­ter in and around the city could be a less ap­peal­ing prospect in fu­ture

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