The Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson verged on lunacy when he said “Climate change will be good for Britain” last September at a Conservative Party Conference while talking about harsh winters are a bigger cause of death than hot summers. Not only did Paterson give some nonsensical comments but he postponed funding for 1,400 flood relief programmes across the UK which would have benefited many homes in the South West. He has also led the charge not to increase spending on the flood relief effort despite the recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change (BBC, 2014). It is simply dangerous and reckless to have an Environment Secretary who denies and dismisses the impacts of our changing climate.
Five months on from those comments and the UK has experienced the wettest December to January period since records began, Met Office (2014). Globally the storms coincided with exceptional weather in North America which can be linked to an unusually strong jet stream in the North Atlantic and major changes to the Pacific Jet stream associated with higher than normal sea temperatures Met Office (2014). It is important not to definitively label weather patterns as climate change. However in the past two months, the pattern of events gives overwhelming evidence that states these are the forces of climate change. Simply, a warmer atmosphere means that air can hold more moisture, explaining the intense rain seen and the trends of increased daily rainfall.
On a more human level, to what extent and magnitude can the visible changes to our environment and human suffering be ignored and discounted? The latest IPCC report states with 95% certainty that humans are the “dominant cause” of climate change, do we need to wait another 6 years for another report to state this has increased to … 97 98 or 99% to appease climate sceptics? I don’t think that anthropological or human induced uncertainty to climate change is the reason for disregarding the problem. No matter what the percentages are and the odds against them, I believe sceptics will still strenuously deny the problem as it is an inherent fear of the impacts we face.
Denying is simply easier than accepting that which politicians know all too well. Having a climate denier as our Environment Secretary is a large gallop of water in the faces of the estimated 6,000 households affected. His actions are indisputably dangerous and irresponsible and he needs to be ditched.
Don’t Duck out- We are going to tweet pictures of ourselves holding up rubber ducks outside our homes etched with one of Paterson’s laughable comments (see a few below). Tweet your pictures of yourself @ukycc
“People get very emotional about this subject [climate change] and I think we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries.”
“Remember that for humans, the biggest cause of death is cold in winter, far bigger than heat in summer”
“I think the relief of this latest report is that it shows a really quite modest increase, half of which has already happened. They are talking one to two and a half degrees.”
BBC, 2014. Somerset Levels flooded farmers in ‘utter despair’. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-25911684 [Accessed on 25/02/14]
Met Office, 2014. A Global Perspective on the Recent Storms and Floods in the UK. Retrieved from: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/2014/uk-storms-and-floods [Accessed on 25/02/14]