The head of England’s Environment Agency (EA) has warned that some British coastal communities will “inevitably” be forced from their homes as climate change eats away at their shores.
The EA’s chief executive, Sir James Bevan said that climate change means “some of our communities cannot stay where they are”.
He told the Flood and Coast Conference in Telford in June:
“While we can come back safely and build back better after most river flooding, there is no coming back for land that coastal erosion has taken away or which a rising sea level has put permanently or frequently under water.”
Sir James also said that,
“The right answer will have to be to move communities away from danger rather than try to protect them from the inevitable impacts of a rising sea level”.
He also said
“It is far too early to say which communities are likely to move in due course”.
Meanwhile in Wales the village Fairbourne has already been told it will have to relocate as Gywnedd Council cannot maintain flood defences indefinitely.
Also the low-lying Fens in eastern England, which account for 7% of England’s agricultural production, already lies partly below sea level due to drainage.
Sir James reassured the audience that,
“No one should be forced from their homes against their will”, but that “we need to start the conversation about all this now”.
A professor of climate and environmental risks at Oxford University, Jim Hall, welcomed the acknowledgment of Sir James’s and described them as “the hardest of all inconvenient truths”.
“Even if the Environment Agency could afford to build coast protection everywhere – which they cannot – the things that many people cherish about the coast, like beaches and sand dunes, will eventually become submerged, unless we start to plan now for how the coastline can adjust to rising sea levels.”
He went on to call for “honest conversations” within coastal communities about the future, and a strategic approach to managing the coast sustainably.
One million Britons will be exposed to coastal flooding by 2100
According to the EA’s new Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy Roadmap to 2026, one in six people in England are at risk of rain or sea flooding.
And across the entire UK, one million people are expected to be exposed to annual coastal flooding by the end of this century.
London would be the worst affected city in the UK, as the Thames overflows and permanently floods north and south of the river.
Sir James recalled the flooding in London last summer, which saw public transport closed, hospitals evacuated and people forced from their homes.
“The severity of these flood events appears to be getting worse, which is exactly what the science predicts.”
Other climate scientists welcomed Sir James’s comments, warning that sea levels will continue creeping up – in some areas beyond our ability to adapt.
Professor Robert Nicholls, The director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Professor Robert Nicholls, described Sir James’ recognition of the issue as:
“A timely official recognition of a major problem that has been predictable for some time but easy to ignore as it only slowly becomes apparent”.
Ilan Kelman, professor of disasters and health at University College London, said that leaving a community is “devastating” but “nothing new for England and Wales”.
If all the world’s ocean waters were to swell with melting ice, then London would be lost under the sea, along with most of the UK’s costal towns, and European jewels like Amsterdam, Venice and Copenhagen.
The Norfolk coastline would be consumed by rising tides, which would swallow much of Kent and Sussex, beaches and towns like Margate and Brighton.
This striking image from National Geographic (above) shows the dramatic changing European landscape if all the world’s five million cubic miles of ice were to melt, leaving an average planet-wide temperature of 26°C.
With such a huge crisis facing the entire planet, the international response should be swift and decisive.
We need to stop producing greenhouse gases as THEY are causing the temperatures to rise and ultimately melting the ice caps.
In Paris in 2015, the leaders from 197 countries all across the world pledged to reduce their countries’ carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris agreement has the aim of limiting global warming to well below 2ºC and ideally to 1.5°C.
However, progress by these international governments has been achingly slow.
Whilst the commitments to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases were set back in 2015, few were binding and the targets they set have to a great extent been missed.
The question we MUST ask is – WHY?
Rambling in Pen hopes you found this article informative. Please share with your friends and family.
We leave you now with a tune from Supertramp – The Logical Song.
Author: Michael W