Out for my regular walk earlier and it would be easy to imagine it was, weather wise, a beautiful April morning. I couldn’t complain. But I might feel less happy if come the summer, with the possibility of prolonged heat (our summers are getting warmer) and so little rain this winter, we are told to gear up for water shortages.
Elsewhere in the world little (?) seemingly unrelated stories about water are proliferating. India is using water supply to Kashmir in an effort to punish Pakistan, which it blames for not doing enough to stop terrorism – this is a mere prelude to the coming water wars, as Himalayan glacial meltwater disappears; in Antarctica, which only recently was believed to be relatively immune to immediate climate change consequences, the East and West ice sheets have been discovered to be melting at an alarming rate; there are the more familiar stories of the Greenland ice sheet disappearing and by now only fools believe there has been no diminution of the Polar ice cap. Closer to home I was looking at some interactive maps which show the likely impact of sea level rise on our shores – it’s bad news for East Yorkshire. All this tells me that adapting to climate change will be the most pressing challenge, since the human species seems to have more or less given up on any serious idea of mitigating it.
One thing that could help in the UK is the creation of a national water grid. It would cost billions, and no doubt a few inevitably wet winters in the future would make people question its value. I bet some questioned the value of the Thames Barrier when it was first mooted. But now the talk is of the need for a second one. If only we could plan for the future we face, and not one which is climate change blind. At least some of our school ‘kids’ are alert to the threat. They should resist being educated for a future defined by ‘business as usual’ – and demand a different education. Some hope with this country’s current set of priorities.