Environment – Preparing for change

Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac) Belly Camera
Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr

A report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) seems to suggest that recent engagement with eco-friendly activities may be too little too late.

The report, published last month, focusses on the urgent need for the UK to prepare for the effects that climate change will have.

Describing the report as “a wake-up call” Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman explains: “There is no part of our society which is immune from the effects of climate change.”

The report is the first of its kind to look not at how we should be looking to prevent global warming, but how businesses and homes should be adapting for the future.

Floods, heatwaves and droughts have all been forecast using computer models of climate change.

“The UK must start acting now,” said chairman of the CCC’s adaptation sub-committee, Lord Krebs.

It has been highlighted that preparing for the future may in fact help to reduce the overall effects of global warming.

“Super-insulating our homes and buildings will keep them warmer in winter and cooler in summer, and will also cut fuel bills,” said policy and campaigns director for Friends of the Earth UK, Craig Bennett.

But does this mean that recent activity has been in vein, or should institutions still do everything they can do reduce emissions and help those dependant on them to be more environmentally aware?

Many universities have recently invested large sums of money in being more eco-conscious.

The National Union of Students (NUS) is very much behind this campaign.

On the NUS website students are reminded of the “Three Rs”: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

An interesting sub-topic on the page is the reference to the Freecycle network: an online community divided into cities where people can offer and receive goods for free.

Freecycle goods range from compact televisions to sofas and even to large quantities of garden soil – for people who may be interested in helping the environment by growing their own food – another suggestion on the website.

It seems that awareness itself may not be the issue.

Joe Boyd studies Chemical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and said, “I think that students and young professionals do know enough about environmental issues, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean they make any more effort.

“Awareness isn’t the problem: people know it’s bad but if it takes effort they often forget or can’t be bothered.”

Alasdair Murison, also a Heriot-Watt student, confirmed Boyd’s opinion: “there should be more incentive to act environmentally, as many are aware, but see practicality and comfort as more important.”

The CCC report was not completely negative, however, highlighting the possibilities that a warmer climate may bring.

Wine production could become more common and the South East of the UK may be able to grow fruits like apricots and lemons.