• What are the most urgent issues facing Essex?
• What can our local readers do to make a difference?
Essex is on the front line as far as the effects of climate change are concerned, and with our long and incredibly fragile coastline, it's sea level rise and then flooding that I'm probably most concerned about, but the face of agriculture is changing too.
We are facing a 2 - 6 degree celsius rise in temperatures, and an increase of up to 20% in winter rainfall. It's also predicted that water levels in the Thames Estuary could rise as much as 86 cm by the 2080's, while there could be a fall of up to 60% in soil moisture levels during summer.
Our rich biodiversity here in Essex is really taking a hammering as our seasons change their patterns due to climate change.
So what are we doing? Building thousands of new homes on flood plains in the Thames Estuary, turning thousands of acres of arable land over to growing non-food crops & looking to almost double our airport capacity.
• Give us a couple of top autumn reads that’ll broaden our mind
Here's where I take many people out of their comfort zones: I passionately believe that far too much emphasis is being placed on mitigation & nowhere near enough action is being taken to prepare & adapt for the inevitable effects of climate change here in Essex & the UK.
There simply isn't the time to play around with greenwash. With 1.32 billion Chinese, 1.12 billion Indians & 300 million Americans all hell-bent at achieving economic growth through polluting technologies, even if every one of us 60 million Brits reduced our carbon footprints it would be merely a drop in the ocean.
Set an example? To who? Yes, let's continue to push for sustainable lifestyles, but the real work to be done is adapt to survive. No more building new homes on flood plains. More coastal realignment schemes, more renewable power schemes, but most importantly we need some strong direction & leadership at the top. Finally, don't get sucked in by the Carbon Offset mindset - if you want to salve your conscience when you take your next cheap flight, give £20.00 to The Wilderness Foundation instead.
Jay Griffiths' book 'Wild' will transport you up the Amazon for some amazing encounters with indigenous shamen, while my friend Jon Symes' superb little book 'Your Planet Needs You' is just inspirational - even for a seasoned old cynic like me!
Thanks Graham! - Graham's website can be found here: greenfuturesconsultancy.com/
Last but not least, here are a few further resources:
- RSA Ted Happold Memorial Lecture: Adapting to a changing coastline in East Anglia - Full lecture and Q&A session (21MB) / Lecture text (PDF)
- OU OpenLearn Module: Managing coastal environments (U216_1): "Coastal environments are by their nature ever-changing. This unit looks at the example of the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, England, describing how the current state of the estuary came to be."
- Notes from the 2006 Chelmsford Challenge: 'Environment vs. Development'