Climate Change – Risks vs Rewards

Findings from the Climate Change Risk Assessment has reported back to the UK government on both the risks and opportunities posed by climate change. The 2,000-page document produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) forms part of the government’s strategy for coping with effects climate change.

The research was carried out over the past three years and involved studying the possible impacts in 11 key areas including agriculture, flooding and transport. Amongst the many dangers global warming poses is hotter summers that could lead to between 580-5900 deaths above the average per year by the 2050s, water shortages in the north, south and east of England, especially the Thames Valley area, by the 2080s and lastly increased damage from flooding which could cost between £2.1bn-£12bn by the 2080s.

However it’s not it’s not all bad news they reported that milder winters could lead to between 3,900-24,000 fewer premature deaths by the 2050s, significantly more than those forecast to die as a result of hot weather,and for farmers wheat yields to increase by 40-140% and sugar beet yields by 20-70% because of longer growing seasons. Business is likely to gain with Arctic sea ice opening shorter shipping routes to Asia.

Some critics of the report say it is too vague to be useful for policy makers, businesses or local authorities. One of the risk assessment contributors stated when defending the reliance on models “They’re the best we’ve got, they’re all we’ve got.”

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