It is impossible not to have noticed the increase in extreme weather events in the UK in recent years. The weather service has reported that the UK has experienced higher than average temperatures, longer warm spells and more tropical nights.
In the past decade the Met office has reported that the coldest days have been 1.7 degrees Celsius higher than in the years between 1961 and 1990 while the warmest days have been 0.8 degrees hotter. Virtually unheard of before are the number of tropical nights where temperatures don’t fall below 20.1 degrees Celsius overnight in the UK.
The warm spells now encountered by the UK last more than double the length of time, for an average of 13.2 days in the past decade, in comparison to 5.3 days before 1991.
England had its hottest summer ever this year as an unusually long heat wave had Europe in its grip.
The Met office can now see an average climate change trend underlined by these numbers.
Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge told CNN recently:
“You can see a fingerprint of climate change within these figures.”
The Met Office report looked in detail at extreme weather events, such as highest and lowest average temperatures and dry and wet spells.
It is of course the extremes of weather that make people sit up and notice and see that climate change is really happening.
Graham Madge went on to say:
“It will be in the measurement of extremes where climate change will be really apparent.”
The world’s leading climate scientists have issued a warning that we only have 12 years for global warming to be limited to a maximum of 1.5C after which just a half a degree more could make a significant difference as to the degree of risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
The landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that urgent and unexampled changes are needed to reach this target which they say is affordable and feasible although at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.
The half-degree difference might prevent corals from being entirely eradicated and lessen the effect on the Arctic. Recent reports have indicated that the world’s oceans have absorbed 60% more heat than previously thought.
The IPCC recently called for:
“rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”
Here are some of the things that we can do to help:
Join movements or existing groups and push for changes big enough to matter, from city-wide renewable energy solutions to large-scale divestment from fossil fuels.
Insulate your home:
Insulate lofts and draft-proof doors and windows. If this was done on a large scale the UK would see a big drop in energy consumption.
Install solar panels:
Switch to renewable energy wherever possible.
Consider your transport options:
Walk or cycle where possible and if not – and it is available and affordable – use public transport. If you need to go by car, consider an electric one.
Reduce, recycle, reuse:
Purchase fewer things and consume less. Recycle wherever possible and reuse things. Make sure you demand a low carbon option in everything you consume, from clothes to food to energy.
Eat less meat, particularly beef:
Avoid meat and dairy products to reduce your environmental impact on the planet.
Remember to vote:
The IPCC & many experts say there is still a chance to create a sustainable and cleaner global energy system and individuals can hold politicians to account by supporting political parties that put the environment at the heart of their economic and industrial policies.
Experts can point out the huge benefits of keeping to 1.5C, tell us about the unprecedented changes that would need to be made in both energy systems and transport to achieve this and show us that it is all possible within the laws of physics and chemistry but is there the political will?