The Guardian recently reported those who think they are immune from climate change will suffer more expensive and bitter coffee as the coffee growers find themselves unable to cope with the effects of climate change. The Guardian was reporting on a report released 31stMarch 2014 by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Amendement stating that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased” and that “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century and that limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”
This winter has been the wettest and perhaps an indication that living with climate change is acutely felt by farmers. Some local farmers in the Blackdown Hills have commented that it is increasingly harder to plan ahead given the uncertainty and vicariousness of the weather in recent years and predictions of the same in the years ahead.
At the same time as the IPCC report was published the press was alive with further comments suggesting that the Tory Party manifesto in preparation for the 2015 general election will contain clauses that will limit wind farm development and reduce subsidies for wind farms generally, on the grounds that they are unsightly in rural landscapes. This is a little ironic given the present coalition government’s enthusiastic support for shale gas development.
All is not lost, we as a country are still one of the leaders in meeting our carbon emission targets and despite some rather contradictory policy statements from all the major parties on the issues of climate change and energy depletion there are ways in which we can all help in our own small way to contribute to a much larger picture of a reduction in CO2, conserving resources and developing alternative cleaner energy.
The last few years have seen a number of developments in the Blackdown Hills as we all become aware of the necessity of changing to contribute. Community energy schemes particularly solar PV panels on community hall roofs, supporting community shops, local markets and the production of local produce, recycling, freecycle, negotiating local planning Section 106 agreements to include affordable and social housing using sustainable, energy efficient and environmentally friendly building methods. I would suggest that these are just as important as the need for a stronger commitment politically. If we all do our own bit in our own backyard then from small acorns large oaks grow.
The next meeting of the Transition Group will held on a Tuesday 10th June at 7.30pm York Inn Churchinford TA3 7RF. If you fancy meeting others with a concern for local resilience to meet the challenges of climate change and energy depletion come along and join in. Contact us via the website www.blackdownhillstransition.org.
Chair, Blackdown Hills Transition Group