Thursday, 18 September 2014

Climate change: "For the love of..."

From today's front page of the Western Morning News:

‘Dear Prime Minister’ - campaigners urge Cameron to tackle climate change at the New York Climate Summit ‘for the love of farming in Somerset’

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 16, 2014
By David Wells
  • Somerset farmer Liz Crew featured in the campaign poster online
  • Part of the advert featured in the Daily Telegraph and The Times

The widespread flooding and storms that battered the Westcountry and Somerset Levels earlier this year form the central thrust of a global campaign to tackle climate change that has been backed by a host of charities, pressure groups and businesses ahead of a Climate Summit in New York next week.
Christian Aid, Greenpeace, the National Trust, the Women’s Institute, the Wildlife Trusts and businesses including Ikea and Unilever among others have all joined forces to sign a public letter to David Cameron today, asking him to take “bold action” to protect our homes, lifestyles and environment from the effects of climate change ahead of next week’s summit.
The signatories, who have come together to under a campaign by the Climate Coalition, urge the Prime Minister to take action “For the Love Of …” followed by a host of causes around the world, including “For the Love Of Farming in Somerset”, “For the love of gardening”, “For the love of Summer Migrants” meaning migrating birds, “For the love of the Arctic” “For the love of fishing” and many others.
Each of the issues on the campaign's website has a link to more information on the subject, with the Somerset farming link accompanied by a quote from farmer Liz Crew on the Somerset Levels.
Ms Crew said: “Farmer’s know that flooding in winter is likely and so they build their cattle sheds on higher ground, but they don’t then expect the sheds to flood. The flood levels in February rose to unprecedented levels. Locally here in Moorland, people knew the flood waters were rising, but I don’t think they thought the houses in the village were going to flood and up to seven feet in deep places. I don’t think that the UK’s farming industry is prepared for the changing weather as until recently, we have never had to be.”

Widespread flooding in early 2014 left swathes of the Westcountry under water, with the Somerset Levels among the areas worst hit. Devon and Cornwall were also badly affected by the flooding and storms, which left a record 7,000 properties swamped and about 49,000 hectares of agricultural land under water. Parts of the Somerset Levels were left cut-off by flood waters for weeks and the storms caused millions of pounds of damage, even severing the region’s main rail link to London at Dawlish.
The coalition’s campaign letter, which was published in full page ads in the Daily Telegraph and The Times, said: 
“Dear Prime Minister. We’re asking you to stand up for the things we love. We love our families, just like you do. We love our homes, our lifestyles, our environment. And we’re worried. 
Last winter’s floods brought the impact of increasingly extreme weather right into the homes and businesses of thousands of us here in the UK. Communities elsewhere in the world have suffered even more devastating impacts.
“We are all affected by the changing climate: the beaches, cliffs and wildlife we all love are threatened whilst people across the world are facing crop failure and thousands of homes in the UK can no longer be insured. In sum, our future well being and economic prosperity are at risk.
“You have an opportunity to be on the right side of history at next week’s Climate Summit. Please take the lead at the Summit and drive forward the bold action needed to protect the things we love.”
A spokesman for Christian Aid said: “Last winter's floods that affected so many people are still in our minds. For the love of our homes, families and businesses that will all be affected by climate change, we’re one of many organisations writing to David Cameron.”
The letter to the Prime Minister comes a week after climate change researchers warned that British winters are becoming more extreme and unpredictable as weather conditions become increasingly volatile.
Teams at the Exeter-based Met Office, working with two universities, suggested the findings of a study meant the “end of the typical British winter” and suggested the winter storms that battered the Westcountry were just one example of how the extreme conditions were likely to affect the country.
It also comes a day after a powerful group of MPs issued the Government a “red card” for its efforts to prevent flooding in the wake of the winter storms and floods earlier this year.
The Environmental Audit Committee cited various criticisms of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs over not spending enough on flood defences, building on flood plains and underwriting affordable flood insurance and issued a red in a scorecard rating – which gave no green ratings for making satisfactory progress.
A spokesman for the National Trust said: “We have a duty to protect the special places that we look after and we would be shirking that duty if we ignored the threat that a changing climate poses to them. If we want others to act to prevent climate change, then we need to reduce our own by reducing our own fossil fuel consumption and increasing renewable energy. This allows us to demonstrate how you can do renewables and energy efficiency that doesn’t compromise the beauty and natural integrity of those places.
“New research from the University of Sheffield, University of East Anglia and the Met Office has mapped out a future where extreme weather in the winter is likely to become the norm as our climate changes. We saw what this means, so dramatically, for places across the South West last winter and that’s why its so important that we plan ahead for the changes coming our way – whether looking at how we adapt our coast or slow the water down as it comes from the hills. Doing nothing cannot be an option and if we all work together we can find the right solutions to reduce our carbon footprint and look at options for adaptation.”

‘Dear Prime Minister’ - campaigners urge Cameron to tackle climate change at the New York Climate Summit ‘for the love of farming in Somerset’ | Western Morning News

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