Photo: Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones: Parliament Square
Time Out, London's weekly events-listing magazine, has asked experts to describe the impact of great catastrophes on the capital city. Many are related to climate change and the outlook is not good.
A scientist outlined the effect of global temperatures rising by 4C, something that has been predicted as a worst case scenario. Another wrote about technology melt down and another of energy supplies dwindling. In a word: we are doomed.
Photo:Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones: Piccadilly Circus
Rising temperatures in the summer have already started; in 2003 and 2006 there were quite a few heat-related deaths in London. Air conditioning is not built into most of the old houses. City streets retain heat so temperatures do not cool down in the evening.
As temperatures rise so do sea levels; England is an island, don't forget. The Thames Barrier is part of an extensive flood management and flood protection plan; a system of walls and embankments along the river. The Barrier is one of the largest movable flood barriers in the world. It consists of ten gates which moderate the height of the river. If the Barrier were to fail, the floods would put 1.25M residents at risk, 400 schools, 8 power stations and the Houses of Parliament. And that's just a start of the disaster.
With larger and larger cities, energy capacity is growing. But the country is not building the capacity for more, whether this be nuclear or not, according to a director of the Human Health and Performance Institute. London is vulnerable "because of its energy consumption and the fact that all of its food comes from the rest of the country or abroad."
Photo:Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones, Jason Hawkes: Skating at Tower Bridge
Soaring food costs are another issue, something that is already taking place in India. According to an Agriculture and Climate Scientist, by 2050 people could be spending half of their income on food. If oil prices keep rising then all aspects of food production will be affected: farmers won't be able to buy fuel, planting and harvesting costs will rise, it will be difficult to import food. Fish could disappear as a result of supporting the growing population.
However, they asked a professional optimist what he thought might happen and it's a different story completely. Whew.
According to the author of "An Optimist's Tour of the Future" We are going to get new targeted medicines, a better relationship to our technology, climate change defused with scrubbers, a reforested plant, an increase in peace and nicer evil corporations. Can't wait.