Global Warming Is No Picnic; Climate Change Global Warming May Make the Cold British Summer a Thing of the Past. but Don't Celebrate Yet, Says Chief Reporter Paul Dale

The Birmingham Post (England), February 2, 2007 | Go to article overview

Global Warming Is No Picnic; Climate Change Global Warming May Make the Cold British Summer a Thing of the Past. but Don't Celebrate Yet, Says Chief Reporter Paul Dale


Byline: Paul Dale

There will be no need to fly to Mediterranean resorts for summer holidays in 2050.

There would be no point.

For a start, the Euro-playgrounds of Malaga, St Tropez and Rome will resemble arid deserts.

Further afield, Cyprus, Crete and Malta are likely to be uninhabitable in the hottest months. And don't even think about Africa or India.

In Birmingham it will be commonplace for the temperature to top 100 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August. Great, you might think. But think again. Extreme weather events are also likely. Stand by for lengthy droughts interrupted by torrential rain, extensive flooding and tornadoes.

This grim picture of the West Midlands in 44 years time - well within the lifetime of our children - is sketched out in a climate change strategy produced by the Birmingham Strategic Partnership.

The BSP, a body representing the city council, other public agencies, business groups, the police and the voluntary sector, is the main strategic planning organisation for Birmingham.

The main aim of the strategy - formally launched yesterday is to find ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels by 60 per cent by 2050 and to raise awareness of the benefits of a low carbon economy.

However much we all try to adopt sustainable lifestyles, it seems there is an inevitability about global warming.

The document warns: "The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher now than at any time in the last 20 million years. This will cause significant changes to both our general climate and weather patterns with potentially devastating impacts globally.

"Temperatures and sea levels are rising. Ice and snow cover are declining, and the consequences could be catastrophic for the natural world and society.

"Scientific evidence points to the release of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere by human activity as the primary cause of climatic change.

"We will seek to secure a profound change in the way we generate and use energy, and in other activities that release these gases. We must prepare for the climate change that cannot now be avoided. We must set a good example and will encourage others to follow it."

While warning Birmingham to prepare for the worst, the strategy takes care to point out that there may actually be some benefits from climate change.

"Warmer summers may encourage outdoor activities and healthier lifestyles and warmer winters may reduce fuel poverty and cold-related illness.

"New opportunities will exist for tourism and leisure, and well-designed open spaces will provide relief from increased temperatures."

On the other hand. . ."The changes in seasonal weather may also increase health impacts from condensation and mould, air pollution and heat stress-related illness. For example, flooding could disrupt delivery of clean water and disposal of sewage."

Warmer, drier summers will increase disruption to road, air and rail travel by melting and buckling surfaces. Milder winters will lead to reduced fuel bills and fewer accidents from ice.

The draft strategy, which will run for a four-year period before being updated, proposes a number of objectives.

These include setting challenging targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions; establishing a city-wide approach to prepare for climate change; integrating climate change into normal business management; developing networks for sharing information and co-ordinating action; raising awareness of the benefits of a low carbon economy; work to achieve a change in attitude on climate change.

The strategy identifies seven key themes around which an action plan will be developed. They are: sustainable procurement; transport; buildings; planning and land use; energy; waste; water.

Sustainable Procurement

The private and public sector organisations comprising the Birmingham Strategic Partnership should utilise its buying power to purchase sustainable goods and services. …

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