XR Hammersmith & Fulham Weekly Meeting
The image above is Bolton Reservoir. Our chalk streams in Cambridge are running out of water. St Albans is short of water.
When a city runs out of water, it is called Day Zero. Chennai in India recently ran out of water.
“London is in the world’s top ten cities at risk of running out of water. The city is pushing close to capacity and is likely to have supply problems by 2025 and “serious shortages” by 2040”. Greater London Authority
“No water, no life. No blue, no green. No ocean, no us.” Sylvia Earle, Marine Biologist
Water sits at the centre of our lives, a necessity; but also a finite resource. The risks posed to our water supply from changes in climate will therefore impact every aspect of our lives.
The water cycle is altering as the climate heats, with changes in where and how rain falls. This means more flooding, drought, extreme rainfall and crop damage.
For the UK, this will cause increased water shortages in the next 20-25 years, with higher drought risk due to hotter summers and increased rainfall variability. Water availability and river levels could reduce by up to 15% and 80% respectively.
The Institute for Public Policy Research says Parts of northern England could run dry by 2035.
We are literally approaching the “Jaws of Death”.
“The jaws of death [is] the point at which, unless we take action to change things, we will not have enough water to supply our needs. Avoiding the jaws of death is a joint effort. We will only succeed if we all work together.” Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency
This will cause huge social, environmental and economic damage and will be especially felt in areas of the UK, such as the South East, that experience increasingly low annual rainfall.
In addition to the issues of drought are the issues of flooding- climate change is predicted to cause increased frequency and magnitude of extreme flooding events; with these already being seen now.
Flooding is both an economic and social damager, inadequate flood defence costs £30,000 to a UK home when flooded, with 5 million homes at risk in the UK, this is a large economic draw (it is £150bn in damages). Will insurance companies cover this? Unlikely. Socially, flooding has enormous physical, mental and emotional impacts, on top of the threat to life.
“The impact of climate change, combined with population growth, means the country is facing an existential threat”, Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency
Yet our water supply faces a double whammy – disruption as weather patterns alter and the impact of rising demand. Our population growth and increasing personal consumption means our towns and cities face severe pressure on supplies, exacerbated by ageing infrastructure.
This threat of national crisis has been addressed frequently in recent media. In June 2019, the director of communications, communities and corporate affairs for water company Affinity Water was quoted saying
“We must act now to avert a crisis. We need to increase the supply of water through new options and by moving water between areas and by reducing demand … without this we will have a crisis on our hands … all we are asking for is a common-sense approach to water.”
At a time of climate and ecological crisis, can we receive the absolute assurance that the preservation of our vital resources is being prioritised? Within the General Election, will these most basic of human rights be addressed?
Our Government must focus on the safety and protection of our communities and the fundamental elements upon which we rely for our survival. Are the most essential ingredients to our survival – air, food and water – being respected and protected?
The London Government website says: “We are using more water than we should – meeting our current demands is starting to have a negative impact on the environment. However, our demand for water is increasing as our population grows. And climate change is likely to reduce how much water is available when we need it most – in the summer. Thames Water estimate that the gap between supply and demand for water will grow to over half a billion litres a day if we don’t act.”
In order for the UK to maintain sustainable management of water, in both demand and climate, the next government must act immediately. Issues of future supply and demand, as well as changes to UK climate must be addressed. We must hold a Citizens Assembly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. #ActNow
This Election is a Water Election.
We are facing a man-made disaster on a global scale.
Once climate change becomes a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late.
I am firmly of the view that the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels
If we can save the banks, we can save the world.
The future of the human race is now at stake.