Wed 8 Aug 2018 18.08 BST
On Monday we received the distressing news that the agro-forestry farm where our son and his partner live in Portugal has been destroyed by wildfires. Thankfully no lives were lost. This is one of a host of wildfires that have broken out this year around the world. Excessive temperatures and high wind speeds were contributory factors in these fires, both consequences of climate change.
In the UK we’re experiencing an unprecedented hot spell, with adverse impact on our own farmers of lack of rain for crops and reduced yields. The heat has affected the frail and elderly, with the NHS being under stress in a way normally experienced only during winter.
Experts are now suggesting that these events are a taster of full-blown climate change, bringing extreme weather conditions, pressure on public utilities, unreliable rainfall patterns, reduced agricultural crops, and increased deaths from heat and humidity. We also face a range of other environmental concerns, including pesticide run-off poisoning our rivers and the frightening prospect of the eradication of soil fertility within the next years. These are just two of the environmental timebombs waiting to go off alongside man-made climate change.
As parents, we are well aware that the time spent writing this letter might instead have been spent writing a eulogy for our son, had circumstances been only slightly different, and we don’t want other parents to go through this experience. If we don’t act now, the world we are passing on will be one that is suffering climate breakdown; whichever direction we look in, we see we are creating a massive problem for our children. We need a holistic non-party-political debate about how to protect our planet and our children’s future, and we need action now.
We therefore call on our government to play its part, alongside other countries that are experiencing the early stages of climate change. We want action now to halt climate change; not in five, 10 or 20 years’ time but today. We must reduce CO2 emissions before it is too late (if it isn’t already) and addressimmediately the industrial and agricultural pollution of our environment. If we don’t, we should be ashamed of ourselves.
Kim and Nick Hoare
• While one can understand the urgency with which the sea defences need to be fixed (New £27m sea walls protecting Blackpool already damaged, 7 August), the debate over what has gone wrong at Anchorsholme should not detract from the need for a wider, and much deeper, debate as to how we deal with rising sea levels and potential future increases in maritime storminess around the UK coastline.
Of course there are places where only hard defences will do, but we need a more sophisticated, integrated discussion of zoning (to avoid building in high-risk zones), building codes (to ensure buildings can withstand forces during extreme events), early warning systems and crisis management planning (to ensure people can get out of high risk areas) and, not least, how the natural coastal protection afforded by the presence of intertidal ecosystems can be factored into shoreline planning. “Pour more concrete” cannot be the only long-term answer, particularly given the eye-watering costs involved.
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