OPINION: The climate change column with campaigner Barbara Atherton – Millions are being displaced across the world

Recently a small village in British Columbia Canada was devastated by wildfires, after temperatures reached a record high of 121F (49.6C) leaving 1,000 homeless and others still missing.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 9:03 am
People would have seen the flooding in East Cowick and Snaith when the River Aire overflowed.
People would have seen the flooding in East Cowick and Snaith when the River Aire overflowed.

A meteorologist at NBC University held that more intense heatwaves are “entirely consistent with climate change”.

20 million displaced – “Climate change is causing people to leave their homes on a mass scale, says Oxfam. “There has been a dramatic rise in the number of weather-related climate disasters. Today, people are seven times more likely to be internally displaced.”

Desertification, sea level rises, cyclones. Africa, Asia, India. Eastern Europe… it’s all happening, all over the world – and back home:

Climate Change campaigner Barbara Atherton.

In 2020 in East Cowick and Snaith in Yorkshire, 87 properties and residents’ wellbeing were badly affected and some evacuation was necessary when the River Aire overflowed.

Local businesses could not open either costing thousands.

You probably all saw the pictures on TV of water racing or standing deep in ordinary streets.

In 2018, the Environment Agency was already thinking about how we could prepare for this new reality:

It said: “People should be encouraged to prepare. If strong locks on your doors help keep insurance premiums down, then property resilience measures such as water resistant insulation in walls and under the floor should do the same for flooding. This is not mandatory, but the value of climate resilience to individuals is under realised.”

Not only must we look to ‘water resistant insulation’ but maybe we need to keep a supply of sandbags to hand and stock up on personal supplies, from teabags to chocolate to toilet paper.

Though it is possible that there may also result a shortage of fresh clean water for domestic use, so add bottled water to that list!

Heatwaves may not mean desertification in East Yorkshire but they can be fatal to the elderly, the vulnerable and to pets. Keep out of the sun and drink plenty.

But you know that don’t you?

We all know about the force of the winds and need to look out for flying debris and property damage.

My neighbour’s garden wall blew down last year and the insurance company blamed the weighty vegetation.

So check your policies and factor in to your budget the cost of possible damages, if necessary.

A big thank you to Rev Oli Preston and Christ Church for organising the first of two ‘Eco Summits’ (the second one is in September) hosting a few talks and discussions, Q&A, refreshments, and the chance to mingle and share.

Unfortunately there were only 30 tickets available for the summit (due to Covid restrictions and spacing) but I will let you know how it went in my next column.