The Increasing Effects of Climate Change on London and the UK

 

In a place known for chilly temperatures and surrounded by ocean, there’s no question that climate change is very much real. Here in the UK, we have experienced undeniable evidence that the weather is changing, and not necessarily for the better. In 2003, we experienced a record-breaking heatwave that topped 38.7 C (101.6 F) and killed 2,000 people within the UK borders alone. The heatwave took many more lives across Europe, a place where heating is far more common in homes than air conditioning.

Climate Change is Turning Up the Heat

While some might say that the 2003 heatwave was a fluke, a top-temperature that is only rarely hit, most can clearly see that both summers and winters are getting warmer with steady progress each year. After all, the 2018 heatwave hit 35.3 C (95.5 C). Just this past February, a time known for snowy romance, London temperatures reached a devastatingly summery 21.2 C (70.6 F).

The climate change that is affecting the rest of the world is profoundly evident here because the UK is a small island surrounded by ocean. It’s supposed to be chilly here, with a few lovely warm months right in the middle of summer. When we find ourselves eschewing your wool coat in the middle of winter and buying a window AC unit, we know something is wrong.

Climate Change is Bringing Down the Rain

Flooding and heavy rainfall have always been a part of life in the UK. Indeed, we pride ourselves on always being prepared for a little damp and always having an umbrella handy in the most unlikely place. Rain is a natural part of life here in London and the rest of the Britsh Isles, but not like this. In the past few years alone, we have seen far more torrential rains, flooding many low-land regions and even areas that have rarely experienced flooding in the past.

Floods have become an increasingly severe problem and the current weather forecasts say that there is only more extreme weather to come. As both summers and winters warm up, our precipitation is more likely to come down as rain and sleet than as fluffy snow, which is in its way far more dangerous.

Climate Change is Raising the Oceans

For an island nation surrounded by ocean, no one is more aware of the rising shorelines than we are. As the icecaps melt with the rising temperatures worldwide, the ocean is rising by 2.5 mm per year, or about 1/8 of an inch. That may not sound like much until you calculate that it will rise by an inch every eight years. For the many British homes built right on the shoreline, this is already spelling disaster.

It is predicted that we could see an entire metre of sea-level rise before the end of the century. That’s not a very long time in terms of today’s extending human generations and our love of passing homes down from grandparents to grandchildren. Homes built on the coast a hundred years ago are already at increasing risk, with the sand and soil eroding out from under anything not built on a lifted stone outcropping.

What Climate Change Has in Store for London

Without serious corrective measures, London itself is in serious risk as temperatures rise, rainfall increases, and the shore creeps ever inward. We can’t afford to lose a metre of shoreline every hundred years if we hope to continue our many-centuries-long existence into the future. We can’t afford to be drowned out or baked out of our homes and businesses.

Change must happen, and we can make it happen. Londoners alone have an incredible influence on carbon emissions, green initiatives, and the power to spread the word to other countries with even greater landmass and populations to make the difference.

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