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Why Harrogate relief road is a terrible idea 4

6th February 2019

Snow-less ski piste
Snow-less ski piste, Val Thorens, France

Climate change made the front page and was the top story on the BBC website today. It should have happened sooner.

Why Harrogate relief road is a terrible idea 4: Met Office prediction

The Met Office says the world is heading for the warmest decade ever. The next 5 years are likely to be at or above 1C warmer than pre-industrial levels, and may exceed the critical 1.5C threshold that we're supposed to be staying below. The decade 2014-2023 will be the warmest of any during the 150 years that records have been kept.

Dr Anna Jones, an atmospheric chemist at the British Antarctic Survey, said that the Met Office's forecast is no surprise. 'Temperatures averaged across the globe are at a record all-time high, and have been for a number of years. They are driven predominately by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, that result from our continued use of fossil fuels. Until we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we can expect to see upward trends in global averaged temperatures.'

Why Harrogate relief road is a terrible idea 4: more about climate change

In October 2018, the IPCC published a Summary for Policymakers, calling for rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes to society if we are to have any hope of limiting warming to 1.5C. That threshold could be exceeded in 12 years. The world is currently heading for a disastrous 3C.

Building new roads, so as to expand the volume of traffic and increase the amount of fossil fuels burnt by vehicles, is incompatible with the urgent, large-scale changes required.

On 1st February 2019, the BBC reported that Australia had experienced the hottest January on record. Average temperatures exceeded 30C for the first time. The heatwave surpasses the previous record, which was in 2013. There were bush fires in Tasmania. A couple of months earlier, in November, one third of a bat species, the spectacled flying foxes, died in just two days - about 23,000 animals that couldn't cope with the heat.

On 4th February 2019, the BBC reported that the melting of one third of the Himalayan glaciers is already locked in. If warming exceeds 1.5C, more ice will go. 250 million people rely on the glaciers as a critical water source. 1.65 billion people living in river valleys below are vulnerable to flooding and destruction of crops.

Why Harrogate relief road is a terrible idea 4: the deniers

There are still some people who will try to mislead us into believing nothing is happening, or the effects will be anodyne.

There are people who are so blinded by their own ideology that they refuse to accept the facts about what is happening to our climate. Some oil and coal companies pay for dishonest propaganda, putting their profits above a habitable climate.

Some people buy the propaganda from the ideologues or the vested commercial interests, but it has less and less traction as people see the changes with their own eyes.

Harrogate is not immune to the effects of a rapidly changing climate. In summer 2018, it may only be that the grass on your lawn went brown for the first time ever, but there is trouble ahead.

Why Harrogate relief road is a terrible idea 4: what do the proponents of the road have to say about climate change?

Absolutely nothing.

Aside from the destruction of countryside and wildlife that the building of a road through the Nidd Gorge would involve, an expansion of the road system will inevitably increase traffic and emissions of CO2. At a time when we should be treading lightly, and looking to travel sustainably, the proponents of the road want to do the exact opposite.

Since they have nothing to say on the subject, devining their opinions comes down to speculation and guesswork. My guess is that they think of themselves as 'realists'. Unfortunately, their reality is based on the facts of a few decades ago.

Genuinely intelligent and inspirational leaders pay attention to convincing scientific research, and are open to new facts - particularly when they are demonstrated in such a compelling and clear way as the facts of climate change have been. We can look across the Atlantic for an example of a leader wallowing in ignorance and populism, and that should be enough to inoculate us against it.

Intelligent and inspirational leaders base their policies on the facts available to us now. The proponents of the road are failing in this. Their blinkered project is from a previous era, and it must fail.

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More climate change news

More climate change news: 80% of insect biomass lost in 30 years

11th February 2019

A review of 73 existing studies of insect population decline was reported on the BBC website today.

40% of insect species are undergoing 'dramatic rates of decline' around the world. The causes are intensive agriculture, pesticides, and climate change.

Insects provide food for birds, bats, and small mammals, pollinate around 75% of crops, and replenish soils.

One of the authors of the paper, Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, told the Guardian, 'When you consider 80% of biomass of insects has disappeared in 25-30 years, it is a big concern.'

More climate change news: melting of Thwaites glacier

7th February 2019

On 31st January 2019, USA Today reported that NASA scientists have found a large cavity under the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica. It is 300m tall, and the area of Manhattan, and would have contained 14 billion tons of ice - most of which has melted in the last 3 years.

The cavity will allow faster melting in future, as more heat and water get under the glacier.

In total, the glacier is the size of Florida; it is 120km wide. If Thwaites glacier melts completely, it will add 0.6m to global sea levels. It supports and holds back neighbouring glaciers, and if they melt, sea levels will rise by 2.44m, flooding coastal towns and cities around the world.

Cote de Lofthouse Kilnsey CragParliament Street, Harrogate