The other morning I cycled past a beautiful ancient oak tree, ripped from the earth in last month’s violent storms. The newspapers have been full of images of devastation from the flooded Somerset Levels. Overseas, we’ve seen extreme snow in the US, bushfires in Australia and a tropical cyclone killing 5,700 people in the Philippines.
Finally, people all over the world are waking up to the probability that climate change isn’t some abstract future threat: it is happening now, to us.
It would be easy to say ‘I told you so.’ For decades CAT and its many supporters have been warning the world about climate change and developing ways to mitigate it. But scoring points won’t save our beautiful planet. Across the world people are learning how to adapt to climate change but if we are not careful, some of those adaptations are only going to make the situation worse. We must act now to lead climate change adaptation in the right direction. We need appropriate adaptation that also addresses the root cause of the problem.
Since 1950, the earth has warmed by 0.7°C, due to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and other human activities. If these aren’t checked rapidly, then by 2050 what we’re experiencing now will be remembered as a mild wet period. We’d be seeing a pattern of deluges followed by droughts – which means massive social challenges as well as environmental. How are we going to protect the most vulnerable and avoid conflict when these changes really hit?
Governments are already being forced to develop adaptation strategies. But with many ‘deniers’ still in power, there’s a real risk they will do it the wrong way. Quick fix solutions to climate change, such as pouring concrete into the floors of buildings at risk of flooding, or cranking up the air conditioning in offices, would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions.
Our society must adapt sustainably and not just store up problems for the future. To achieve such a fast and radical culture change will take nothing less than a new, low carbon industrial revolution.
CAT is ideally placed to develop the right kind of expertise and share the knowledge that will steer governments, organisations and individuals away from the wrong decisions and help them adapt sustainably.
For 40 years, CAT and its supporters have taught and inspired people to deliver practical, sustainable solutions. Our graduates include environmental policy advisors, local authority energy efficiency experts, architects specialising in sustainability and engineers managing renewable energy installations.
We’re launching our Changing Planet campaign to share this knowledge as widely and as fast as we can. Can you donate now to help us rise to this vital challenge?
If you can help us, here’s how we will help the world:
We’ll teach new courses, enabling change-makers to lead sustainable adaptation: From September, CAT will be teaching a series of new courses on sustainability and adaptation. We’ll teach professionals how they need to approach building, town planning, land use and water security in the light of our changing environment.
We’ll spread our message to more people by making our Eco-cabins accessible to a wider range of educational groups, improving our visitor centre and holding more conferences and distance learning courses to make our knowledge widely available.
We’ll keep inspiring research leading to new technologies: We have already won awards for our ground-breaking research into hemp – an astonishing crop which, used for building renovations, could massively reduce the UK’s energy consumption.
But we can’t do it without you.
If you can make a donation today, it will help us inspire and educate many more people. For example, £100 could pay for one of our world-class experts to write and deliver a lecture on climate change adaptation. £2,500 could pay to put on a conference on adaptation towards climate change for 200 delegates.
Incoming Chief Executive