Flooding and Drought Pose Major Threats Says National Adaptation Plan
The Government’s National Adaptation Plan issued this week identifies flooding and drought as the major risks to the UK from climate change. Rainfall is expected to become more intense but falling in sharper bursts, paradoxically that is likely to lead to significant water shortages throughout the country. The report estimates that by the 2050s between 27 million and 59 million people in the UK could be living in areas affected by drought. Flooding is more likely to have an immediate effect with the cost of annual damage to residential properties alone from tidal and river flooding in England and Wales set to increase from £640m to over £1.1bn by the 2020s.
Other risks identified in the document include increases in food poisoning cases related to warmer weather, and summer morbidity amongst an ageing population. The plan calls for more information on the full impact of heat waves on cities and likely rises in cancer rates due to increased exposure to sunlight.
Rising temperatures will also increase levels of certain air pollutants such as low level ozone. As well as direct effects in the UK as Environment Minister Owen Patterson points out extreme events across the globe will have a significant influence. “Even when extreme weather hits abroad we feel the effects at home. For example, harvest failures abroad push up food prices here – a worrying prospect for hard-pressed families.”