Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Climate Change in Cornwall and the South West

Climate Change in the South West

What to expect in our region

South West Climate Change Impacts Partnership predictions:

- Summers becoming hotter and drier
- This could mean the alteration of natural habitats and a strain on the regions water resources
- Wetter winters
- This could mean flash flooding and damage due to storms

Much of the South West relies on its natural resources; mainly its coastal and inland landscape as this attracts its biggest source of income - tourists. Not just this but the South West has some of the most beautiful areas in the country and much of this is untouched. Lots of areas of inland are farmed and the coast provides jobs and recreational activities for residents and holiday makers alike. There is a worry that sea level rise will affect the South West greatly, especially Cornwall, cutting off certain areas and creating islands i.e. Land's End.

Back on the nature side of things, the Sotuh West is said to have around 20% of the countrys untouched ancient woodland some of which, such as along the Helford River, will suffer greatly with sea level rise. This may mean the loss of certain species and a decrease in biodiversity.

The South West is also one of the hotter areas of the country but as temperatures increase with climate change, it is thought the region will get 1.0 to 2.5°C warmer and the winters will get significantly wetter. (Although at current 2007/2008 has not proved this point!) These 2 factors will mean an increase in storms and flooding which could mean problems along the coast with more erosion and weathering. There are also fears that the increasing temperatures will bring huge amounts of tourists to the South Coast, even dubbing it the 'Costa del Cornwall'. Although tourism is the main industry relied upon in the area to bring in revenue, it would have a massive impact upon the wildlife here and could lead to the increase of fuman impact on the area. Scientists are worried that Britain is not considering this as a serious problem.

Cornwall Country Council addressing the problem of Climate Change:


Beach Management Plan Notes:



-National Trust maintained
-Water quality - nearby sewage outfall - 2 combined sewage outfalls. Is currently MCS recommended but no Blue flag status
-Erosion - Sand dunes/cliffTourist facilities/ access
-Wildlife - Marine and TerrestrialLitterAdaptaion to sea level rise

-Nat. Trust/ SSSI maintained

-Large Area
-Unstable/Exposed coast

-Reduce Sewage
-Awareness and Education

-Wave Hub?

1. Preserve Ecosystem
2. Tourism

Planned retreat - with regards to sea level rise i.e - no defences to be set up. General improvements.

1. Improve Sewage treatment to improve water quality
2. No beach defences
3. Move tourist facilities and car park - create new access routes
4. Provide litter bins
5. Monitor erosion of coast, sea level rise and any other factors affecting (to monitor changes for wildlife and also in case of change for future plans)


Coastal Processes

Coastal Arosion and Acretion

IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Research into SLR
Records since 1915 - 20cms rise in 90 years

The National Trust:
- Mean Sea Level Rise
- Tides and Surges
- Winds and Waves
- Ocean Temperatures and Currents
- Pollution
- Construction

Physical Changes:

Long term processes-
- Sea Level Rise
- Wave height/ Wave energy/ surge
- Sediment supply
- Coastline retreat

Short term processes-
- Erosion
- Flooding
- Breakdown human intervention
- Coastal Squeeze

Friday, 4 January 2008

'Costing the Earth: Mermaids Tears'

From a BBC Radio 4 Report:

'They are to the oceans, what CO2 is to the air'
This is a quote from a scientist regarding plastic particles in the ocean known as 'mermaids tears' which are fragments and grains of plastic which could be poisoning our seas and killing off some of our marine life. 80% of this plastic comes from the land.

Jan Van Franeker claimed: 95% of Fulmar birds found dead had ingested plastic. He also stated that sea turtles mistake plastic bags/sheeting for the jelly fish they normally eat and seals are also often caught up in fatal accidents with plastic.

The biggest worry relating to this is the toxic chemicals given off by plastic in the ocean. Plymouth University have been studying plastic particles and have discovered grains of plastic smller than grains of sand in over 20 beaches across the UK. This has also been discovered abroad, in North and South America, Africa, Australia and the Arctic. One Dr. Thompson estimaed there are currently 300,000 items of plastic per sq km of seabed. Toxic chemicals are worrying because of ingestion of marine animals. Many animals at the lower end of the food chain feed by filtering food through and plastic is being ingested by these animals in this way; absorbing the dangerous chemicals. Studies by the team at Plymouth Uni show that these toxins are now travelling along the food chain and are being ingested by anything that eats these invertebrates. This could mean coming back and reaching humans.

Spokeswoman for the plastics industry has claimed that there is no evidence for absorption of plastic by animals actually happening in nature, only theroetically. Also claimed it is 'the people's problem' for it is they whom discard of the rubbish.

Further studies are being done to find out how detrimental this problem could be. But as most plastics found on the beach are post-consumer, we should start looking at ourselves to try and clean the problem up.

For more information see the following BBC news article:

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Global Climate Campaign and the UN

Saturday 8th December - Worldwide Climate Change protest - UK pushing for Climate Bill.

Over 50 countries participated in rallys to protest no action being taken against climate change as the UN talks take place in Bali. In the UK, nearly 8,000 people turned out for the protest, taking part in talks, pickets, a cycle ride and walk through london. 8,000 is a small number in comparison to the millions who live in London alone (especially consiering there was over 1 million for Iraq march).

Kyoto Now:http://youtube.com/watch?v=o1ykJKKolx8

UN talks were said to be 'a breakthrough' in actioan against climate change. Although experiencing much resistence from the US, an agreement was reached and will be fine tuned between now and 2009 in order to begin 'post-2012'

In relation to Climate Bill and Britain meeting its climate targets:
As of today, Thursday 3rd January, a new coal power station in Kent is being built - the first in nearly 25 years. Council is supporting this decision as E.ON claim another power station would be demolished and it's replacement will be 20% cleaner. Ben Stuart, Greenpeace, claims the new plant will produce 8.5 million tonnes CO2 per year. Even though there has been nearly 10,000 complaints, E.ON claimed today they had still only received only around 8 complaints and with no council objection, the plant is likely to go ahead. (info heard on radio 5L)