3 Uncomfortable Facts about Climate Change in the UK

Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough, Australian bushfires, MET Office figures announcing the last 10 years as the ‘warmest decade on record’… You can’t switch on the television or the radio at the moment without being confronted by news reports on global warming, calls for environmental action or extreme weather despair. In 2019, the UK declared a climate emergency but how is global warming affecting us in Britain and what are some of the facts about climate change in the UK? The UK is Getting Warmer The UK’s 9 warmest years have all been recorded since 2002. MET Office figures dating back to 1884 show that the UK is getting warmer. Many of us will have wished for long hot British summers but increasing temperatures across the country are set to have a detrimental effect on many of the things that we’ve come to rely on: infrastructure, commerce, health services and food production to name but a few. During June and July’s heatwave in 2018, almost 700 more deaths were recorded than average. It’s not just the elderly that are vulnerable but those with heart and kidney problems, too. Here’s another fun fact for you: you’re more likely to have a car accident in the warmer months. By 2100 it’s expected that heatwaves could be as long as 50 days and top 40 degrees Celsius. Warmer summers in the UK might have us thinking of ice creams on the sea front or BBQ’s in the back garden but what about the millions living and working in urban areas? Urban heat island effect happens in built-up areas and is when the surface in urban areas – pavements, roads, roofs, building etc – absorb more heat than the natural ground covering you find in less developed areas in t grass, plants, soil and trees, for example. British buildings are far better at keeping heat in than letting it out. Increased temperatures will make living, working and commuting in urban areas almost unbearable. The UK’s Fast Fashion Habit is Killing the Planet The UK is the biggest European consumer of what’s known as ‘fast fashion’. We all know what fast food means but what does fast fashion mean? Fast fashion is mass-produced inexpensive clothing designed and made as quickly and as regularly as possibly in order to encourage consumers to buy new pieces. The UK high street has been selling affordable clothing to customers for decades but fast fashion has a much quicker turnaround with seasonal collections frequently replaced with something new. But what does it have to do with climate change in the UK? The UK is the biggest consumer of fast fashion in Europe. More than two tons of clothing are bought each minute in the UK. According to Green Peace, each one of us buys 26.7kgs garments a year which is 10kgs more than countries like Germany and Sweden. Here’s something that might surprise you: The textile industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the shipping and aviation industries combined”. What? The report by Oxfam also found that: The emissions from all the new clothes bought in the UK each month are greater than those from flying a plane around the world 900 times. What? What? What? It’s far easier to imagine how airlines contribute to climate change but that new t-shirt in your wardrobe? What about all the ones you’ve never worn? What about all the outfits you’re binning? 11 million items end up in landfill each week. Warm Waters in the UK The UK’s waters are now 1 degree warmer than they were a century ago. Good news for skinny dippers but not so good for fishing, marine life or seabirds. Cod could disappear from UK waters within 30 years and be replaced by tuna and anchovies. One study, whose results were reported in The Telegraph, said that by 2050 the net value of the UK’s fishing industry could drop 10%. A major publication from the Marine Climate Change Impact Partnership (MCCIP) lays out some of the problems the UK will face given its warming waters. Along with the expected reduction of certain fish and bird species it suggests that increased coastal erosion poses a threat to cultural heritage sites. It’s not just UK waters either. Global seas and oceans are warmer than they’ve ever been. According to Lijing Cheng, lead author on one report into sea temperatures: "The amount of heat we have put in the world's oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions," More than 90% of trapped greenhouse gases have been absorbed by the sea. It’s an incredible but devastating example of what we’ve been doing to our sea water. We’re already beginning to see the impact of climate change in the UK. Understanding that what we’re putting out into the environment and what we’re contributing with consumerism is the key to adopting new and less environmentally damaging ways of doing things. At Energym, it’s at the heart of what we do: developing clean-energy technology to help gyms reduce their electricity bills and their carbon footprint. Click here to find out more about what we do. Photo Credits: Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough photographed for the Today programme

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