Our summer has pleased sun lovers and those on staycation.
However, it has been a curse for many, not least those who have died across the globe because of heatwaves: Japan 300, England possibly more than a thousand, predicted to be 7,000 annually by 2050.
The temperature in Africa was the highest recorded: 51 degrees. The NHS is experiencing a ‘summer crisis’; farmers are facing destroyed crops and devastated harvests, resulting in increasing prices for food and animal feed.
Scientists are saying heatwaves (four-fold increase in parts of the world), storms, wildfires and other extreme weather events are directly linked and a consequence of climate change. Other contributory factors: slow moving jet stream, heating of the Arctic and resulting loss of sea ice increasing sea levels. These events are likely to become the norm rather than exceptions, a new norm, a new reality.
This is the face of climate change, it is unfolding before our eyes. We must all try to wake up to this new reality, this crisis, this emergency. We must adapt for the future through changing our behaviour, how we live, how we travel, how we consume, this may yet save us from devastating the planet.
Central to this is tackling the root cause, greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (Co2), methane being two. We must leave fossil fuel in the ground and reduce carbon emission.
Oppose Government policy which supports expansion of nuclear and fracking, has stopped solar power tariffs resulting in 50 per cent reduction in solar panel installations and banned onshore wind farms.
In the first three months of 2018 wind farms produced more electricity than Britain’s nuclear power stations. Investing in renewable energy must be the future: cheaper electricity, cleaner, better for the environment and mitigating continued climate change.
As individuals, consumers and communities we can make a difference. Here are four actions we could take, in no order of priority:
1) Switch to renewable energy.
2) Reduce consumption, recycle and reuse.
3) Wherever possible avoid using cars and especially cut down on flying.
4) Last but not least, perhaps the most controversial: Reduce meat consumption especially beef resulting in a more healthy and sustainable diet. Animal agriculture causes 18 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Methane produced by cows and landfill sites affects global warming considerably more than Co2.
We need to build resilient communities which can challenge, face and mitigate climate change. The future of our planet and all life we share it with rests in our hands.
Cllr Susan Murray
Clare Road, Lewes