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Managing Climate Change

Managing the impacts of climate change: MITIGATION & ADAPTATION

Key Words

Adaptation -Actions taken to adjust to natural events such as climate change, to reduce potential damage, limit the impacts, take advantage of opportunities, or cope with the consequences.
Mitigation - Action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from natural hazards, such as building earthquake - proof buildings or making international agreements about carbon reduction targets.

Mitigation 1 - Alternative energy production
The major current cause of the rise in the World’s temperature is that people are reliant on the burning of fossil fuels for producing energy, for heat and for transport.  To mitigate against this as a planet we need to reduce the amount of non-renewable fossil fuels that we burn, as these produce Carbon Dioxide in large quantities when burnt. 
Instead we could look at alternative RENEWABLE forms of energy.

Energy Source Facts and description Advantages Disadvantages
Wind  Modern windmills, called wind turbines, turn wind energy into electricity. If the turbines are in a group it's called a wind farm. This is a renewable energy source, that's because we will never run out of wind.
The price of wind energy is stable; it doesn't go up and down like the price of coal or oil.
The UK gets lots of wind  annually 
There is some local opposition and concern about noise and impact on landscape.
Wind is more expensive than fossil fuels to set up and wind levels fluctuate over time.
Solar Power Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Sunlight can be converted directly into electricity using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly with concentrated solar power (CSP), which normally focuses the sun's energy to boil water which is then used to provide power  Solar panels give off no pollution; the only pollution produced as a result of solar panels is the manufacturing, transportation and installation.
Solar energy produces electricity very quietly & can be used globally.
Can be used in remote locations that are not linked to a national grid and batteries allow capture of energy during the day for use at night. 
Solar panels cost a lot. Currently, prices of highly efficient solar cells can be above £1000, and most households may need more than one.
Solar energy is only able to generate electricity during daylight hours.
The weather can affect the efficiency of solar cells.
Hydroelectric Power Hydropower is energy generated from the movement of water through rivers, lakes and dams.  Once built, the power stations do not release the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
Hydropower is not vulnerable to changes in price like oil or gas.
Power stations which rely on rainfall can be vulnerable to drought.
Large dams and reservoirs have a big impact on the environment and the people who live near them.
Nuclear Power Radioactive minerals such as uranium are obtained by mining. Electricity is generated from the energy that is released when the atoms of these minerals are split (fission) or joined together (fusion) in nuclear reactors.   Once built, the power stations produce only a small amount of the gas Carbon dioxide. That's important as the UK Government wants to reduce this gas as part of a plan to slow down global warming.
Nuclear power stations produce a reliable, steady stream of electricity.  
Nuclear power stations are very expensive to build & to shut down and have safety concerns.
The radioactive nuclear waste must be dealt with very carefully. It's harmful to people so it must be treated and then kept in special stores to keep it safe.

 

Mitigation 2 - Carbon capture

Carbon capture is the trapping of the carbon dioxide released when we burn fossil fuels.

Carbon Capture

There are many possible sites for Carbon capture, including;
• Saline aquifers (vast underground water-containing rock formations),
• Un-mineable coal seams,
• Old oil and gas wells.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other studies indicate that CCS can decrease the CO2 emissions to atmosphere of a typical coal-burning power plant by up to 90%, making development of this technology an attractive prospect.
The UK has good potential for Carbon Capture.  The North Sea has gas and oil fields and saline aquifers where we could store CO2 produced by the UK’s gas and coal-fired power plants.
The positives of this are that we can reduce our carbon emissions whilst still being able to use cheap fossil fuels to produce our electricity.  It has lots of potential for storing CO2 and will reduce our carbon emissions.  The negatives are that it means we remain stuck using a non-renewable resource and not all CO2 can be captured.  It is also very expensive to “capture” the carbon.


Mitigation3 - Planting trees
A practical way to mitigate climate change is to plant more trees in order to take more carbon out of the atmosphere. This is known as afforestation.

Trees in Carbon Cycle
Younger trees absorb carbon dioxide quickly while they are growing, but as a tree ages a steady state is eventually reached, and at this point the amount of carbon absorbed through photosynthesis is similar to that lost through respiration and decay. If trees are harvested carefully near this time in the growth cycle, and new trees are planted or allowed to regenerate, then this can keep the forest as a net “sink” of carbon. Therefore careful woodland management can mean that woodlands are able to take up the maximum amount of carbon possible.
 

Mitigation 4-  International agreements
Climate change is a global issue, so it needs all countries to work together to try and sort it out. Global warming was identified as an issue that needed sorting out in 1988 when the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) was established to assess the "risk of human-induced climate change".
The Earth Summit followed in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, and wanted to stabilize greenhouse gas levels to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
The Earth summit agreement was then followed by an update, the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. This was agreed by nearly every country in the world except the USA (plus 4 others), which wanted developing nations to have to cut their emissions as well.
The most recent UN climate talks were held in Paris in 2015. It was agreed that the EU would put its current emission-cutting pledges inside the legally-binding Kyoto Protocol, a key demand of developing countries. Most major countries have signed up to the Paris Protocol.
EU climate change action
The EU's vision for the Paris Climate Change summit, 2015.  ©European Commission

The UK and its action
The UK is a leading nation in the battle against climate change, as a country we have committed to reducing CO2 levels to 80% of the 1990 level by 2050.  Indeed, the Climate Change Act 2008 made the UK the first country in the world to have a legally binding long-term framework to cut carbon emissions. The UK is part of a wider program as part of the European Union’s emission trading system which was the first large emissions trading system in the World.

Adaptation 1 - Change in agricultural systems
Agriculture (farming) will need to adjust to climate change.  There will be positive and negative impacts for agriculture from climate change;
In the UK we can expect increased yields for current crops such as wheat, sugar beet and potatoes, better grass yields for feeding livestock and the introduction of new crops and tree species. Certain fish stocks, like plaice, may increase as species move north.
However, farmers could experience crop losses due to flooding and the forestry industry could see timber yield and quality reduced by drier weather and spreading pests. Some fish species could shift north, reducing the UK's cod fishery.

To adjust farmers and governments will need to consider;
1. Altering the species they farm to the climate of the future
2. Use technology to “harvest” water such as dams and reservoirs and conserve soil moisture in areas where rainfall decreases.
3. Draining water to prevent water logging, erosion, and nutrient leaching where rainfall increases.
4. Altering the timing or location of cropping activities. The South of Britain is increasingly becoming a great vineyard for example.
5. Improving pest, disease, and weed control as these might change location with climate change.
6. Using climate forecasting to reduce production risk.
7. Use Genetically Modified species that have a capacity to cope with drier, hotter or wetter conditions. For example, drought tolerant wheat SeriM82 has deeper root systems to help it access more water.

Adaptation 2- Managing water supply
Fresh water is crucial to human survival; we use it for drinking, farming, washing and many other activities. Only 2% of all of the water on planet Earth is fresh, and of that fresh water 70% is locked up as snow and ice.
Climate change is expected in the future to;
• Make water supplies in some parts of the world increasingly scarce in the future. This includes regions in the sub-tropics such as the Sahel region south of the Sahara, where water is already scarce.
• Make some parts of the world wetter and more humid.
• Make the air warmer so it can hold more water, which will lead to more and heavier rainfall.
• Melt land ice and snow more quickly, many millions of people rely upon this as a water source and will be vulnerable if it disappears
Water Pump
Source - http://www.impact.org.uk/priorities/safe-water-sanitation/ 

The overall effect is likely to be more extreme floods and droughts globally. The IPCC say that many dry regions including the Mediterranean and southern Africa will suffer badly from reduced rainfall and increased evaporation. They estimate that around one billion people in dry regions may face increasing water scarcity.
There are other factors increasing water scarcity;
1. Increasing global population
2. Increasing demands from farming (agriculture)
3. Water pollution limiting supply
4. Rising wealth in some countries means a larger number of people living water-intensive lifestyles, including watering of gardens, cleaning cars and using washing machines and dishwashers.
 

SOLUTIONS
The solutions against possible climate change impacts include many engineering solutions. The common method is reservoirs to store it and pipelines to transfer it. An example of this is the Kielder water transfer scheme in the North east of England
Some areas are using desalination to recover freshwater from the oceans.
Efforts are also being made to increase water saving, reuse and recycling, and in the UK there is currently major investment into education and water-saving technology by the government and water industry.
Tube wells can be sunk in regions to tap into groundwater sources as well, as have been used in Bangladesh

Adaptation 3 - Reducing risk from rising sea levels
Climate change is causing sea levels to rise.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predict a rise in global sea levels of between 28 and 43cm by the end of the century. The IPCC projections of sea level rise can be seen below.
In the UK rising sea levels could hit beaches, low lying land and buildings including tourist attractions and historical monuments, with knock-on impacts for businesses that rely on them. Rising sea levels could also flood large parts of our valuable agricultural land. Flooding costs could rise from the current £1.2 billion a year to between £2.1 billion and £12 billion a year by the 2080s, with issues including insurance industry exposure to UK flood risks, the availability of insurance and provision of mortgages to at-risk properties.
To reduce the risk of this (APE);
ABANDON - We can abandon areas at most risk and not worth saving economically.  Already in the UK homeowners can get a £6000 grant to help with the costs of demolishing their home from Defra if at risk from being destroyed by coastal erosion.
PLAN - Shoreline Management Plans have been put in place LOCALLY to plan to provide a strategy for long term coastal adaptation to rising sea levels on a local scale.
ENGINEER – we could build more costly coastal defences using hard engineering such as sea walls and groynes or soft engineering such as sand dune creation.  The Thames Barrier defends central London and would need replacing at a cost of £7 billion.

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