Dire predictions of the future caused by climate change were presented to an audience in Leighton Buzzard by Dr Chris Brierley, Associate Professor in the Geography Department of University College London.
Dr Brierley gave a talk to more than 40 people at the Friends Meeting House, explaining the science and the negative effects for Leighton Buzzard – but also stressed how cutting emissions can create lots of positives for the town.
Dr Brierley explained how there had not been this amount of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere for 3 million years.
He showed the weather records for central England which had been kept since 1659 which is longest instrumental record in the world and which showed roughly 1.5°C warming since 1659 and an increase in extremely hot days this century which are set to increase.
He then looked at the specific effects in Leighton Buzzard, predicting there will be reduction in rain in the summer and an increase in the winter andby the 2080s there will be a reduction of 30% in the amount of deployable water meaning that there will be a deficit in water supplies locally.
Also forecast is an increase in flooding as well as impacts from lower crop yields meaning higher food prices and less choice. There will be more immigration caused by climate-related famines and conflicts and pension investments will be at risk from overvaluation of unused fossil fuels. There will also be a change in our flora and fauna as species of trees needs to move more than 10 metres a day to keep up with the change in temperatures and climate due to climate change.
However, Mr Brierley stressed that cutting emissions to save the planet creates some great opportunities to benefit our quality of life, especially in transport.
Self-driving cars will remove the need for car parks as you will be able to send your car back home. There will be much better public transport, more people working from home and more cycling which makes you healthier and feel better as well as clean air.
The renovation of buildings needed to cut emissions will lead to lower energy bills. There will probably be much more local control as the economy will change. There will be more greener infrastructure and trees to reduce emissions which will make the environment more pleasant.
There was then a lively discussion about what we can do locally in Leighton Buzzard to save emissions.
Victoria Harvey, of South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth, said: “There is real opportunity to improve our town for everyone when we cut emissions.
“Buzz Cycles have been campaigning for the small improvement to the cycle network which can transform the cycle network leading to more people cycling and being healthy and so reducing congestion for those who need to drive.
A big improvement in public transport and tackling the school run, again means less congestion for those who need to drive and a healthier life style for children and also stops social isolations for so many elderly people.
“Investing in renewable energy means local jobs and creating our energy rather than relying on imported fuel from the Middle East.
“There are lots of small things we can do ourselves such as switching to renewable energy providers, thinking about our shopping choices, but also our council has huge opportunities to really help Leighton Buzzard and improve our lives as well as helping the planet”.
This talk was organised as part of a series talks co-organised by Low Carbon Leighton-Linslade and the South Beds Friends of the Earth. There will be more talks after Christmas.