Climate Change Is Inevitable - the Debate Now Is How We Can Avoid the Worst of It; Big Temperature Changes Which Could Bring Disease and Environmental Devastation Were Forecast Last Week in Ominous Projections of How Wales' Climate Could Well Be Transformed in the Coming Decades. but It's Not Too Late to Limit the Damage - as Long as We're Prepared to Make Radical Changes to the Way We Live, Writes Dave Britton of the Met Office

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 22, 2009 | Go to article overview

Climate Change Is Inevitable - the Debate Now Is How We Can Avoid the Worst of It; Big Temperature Changes Which Could Bring Disease and Environmental Devastation Were Forecast Last Week in Ominous Projections of How Wales' Climate Could Well Be Transformed in the Coming Decades. but It's Not Too Late to Limit the Damage - as Long as We're Prepared to Make Radical Changes to the Way We Live, Writes Dave Britton of the Met Office


Byline: Dave Britton

YOU heard it here first. There is no climate change debate. Not any longer. It's old hat, yesterday's news.

At least, I should say, no debate remains over whether the climate is changing. Every credible scientist, commentator and politician agrees that the evidence for a steadily warming climate is irrefutable.

And this is not just a distant problem - something for hotter countries to worry about or for future generations to fix. Climate change is happening now: figures from the Met Office show 13 of the 18 hottest years on record have occurred since 1990.

The debate has now turned to what the impacts will be and what we can do to avoid - or adapt to - the worst of it.

Last week the Welsh Assembly Government published a range of projections that give an overview of what is likely be in store as Wales' climate warms up through the remainder of this century.

Covering 30-year periods starting in 2010 and ending in 2099, and based on cutting-edge science from Met Office climate experts, the key findings may give cause for concern.

But at the same time they allow a clear opportunity to take a risk-based approach to planning for the future.

In Wales we will undoubtedly avoid some of the more extreme impacts likely elsewhere in the world.

Or even the levels of change possible in other parts of the UK.

But there is certainly no room for complacency. Given that global CO2 emissions are expected to remain at a relatively high level for the foreseeable future, we can expect notable differences from the climate we have come to regard as typically Welsh.

And even if we drastically cut our greenhouse emissions now, the cumulative effect of past emissions still means that some change is inevitable.

So we need to adapt the way we live and work to cope with a future where important aspects of Welsh life could be affected - whether that means changes to the way in which we use our upland grazing and the breeds of livestock we choose to farm, or the future direction of our leisure and tourism industry.

Indeed it may affect the degree to which we protect ourselves from floods or drought or even weather-related health issues such as severe bronchitis, lung disease or heatstroke.

So what do the headlines tell us? The data provides a range of probable outcomes that are dependent upon the climate's complex relationship with as yet unknowable factors such as emissions levels and natural variability.

We have a very good indication that it's likely to be wetter and warmer during the winter months.

This implies less frost - which on the face of it may seem like good news for older people in our communities - but which at the same time could have implications for future incidence of agricultural pests such as foot and mouth and bluetongue. …

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Climate Change Is Inevitable - the Debate Now Is How We Can Avoid the Worst of It; Big Temperature Changes Which Could Bring Disease and Environmental Devastation Were Forecast Last Week in Ominous Projections of How Wales' Climate Could Well Be Transformed in the Coming Decades. but It's Not Too Late to Limit the Damage - as Long as We're Prepared to Make Radical Changes to the Way We Live, Writes Dave Britton of the Met Office
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