Hurricane force winds batter much of UK and Northern Europe and a storm surge is flooding countless properties, blowing trees over and disrupting communications. The death toll continues to mount. BBC weather presenter Matt Taylor attributes the devastation to three factors: low pressure creating a bulge in the sea surface, strong northerly winds driving this up against the coasts of eastern England and much of the coast of Northern Europe, and all this coinciding with seasonal high tides. Owen Paterson, the climate change denying Environment Secretary and Conservative MP for North Shropshire said “Conditions like this only occur … every 500 years”.
Matt Taylor left out a fourth factor. Rising sea levels caused by climate change. The graph above shows that the average rise in sea levels over the last 140 years has been about 9 inches (227mm). These so called once in every 500 year events are getting ever more frequent and rising sea levels are a major factor: so too the increasing ferocity of the weather as a direct result of climate change. Professor David MacKay, who is scientific advisor to the government, has offered to give Owen Paterson a briefing on the science of climate change. Not surprisingly Paterson has declined. Having a scientifically illiterate Environment Secretary is not helpful when it comes to preventing more and greater future extreme weather events. The need for governments to take climate change seriously could not be greater. We also need governments who can see the opportunities for multiple benefits by moving into a post fossil fuel era. We could massively reduce the emissions causing climate change by investing in energy efficiency and a smart mix of renewable energy. Simultaneously we could drastically reduce pollution of all kinds, enhance biodiversity, eliminate fuel poverty and create jobs and even economic growth. Let me here and now challenge Owen Paterson to a public debate on the subject. I don’t suppose there’s much chance of him agreeing, but I’d relish the opportunity.
BBC weather presenter Matt Taylor video clip amongst news http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25243460
6th Dec. BBC news report and Paterson quote http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25253080
Wikipedia on Sea Level Rise http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Current_sea_level_rise
Wikipedia cites 7.7 inches from 1870 to 2004. To this add 0.13 inches per year for the last 10 years = 9.00 inches. (195mm + (3.2 for 10 years) 32mm=227mm
Wikipedia on Paterson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owen_Paterson