According to various news reports and TV programmes, lockdown has given us a renewed perspective on the importance of the outdoors, wildlife and the environment. We’ve rediscovered the open spaces on our doorsteps, cleaned the bike shops out of bikes and learned to appreciate the simple pleasure of getting outside and enjoying nature. Martlesham is particularly fortunate in this regard as we have an abundance of open space, woods, a SSSI and a nature reserve classed as an AONB. We’ve got a new orchard, a wildflower meadow and a large village green.
It won’t have escaped your attention that, as well as contending with a global pandemic, the world also has an impending climate crisis that puts our green spaces, and us, at risk. Thanks to emissions from power generation, transport and intensive farming, greenhouse gas concentrations have risen over the past century and we’ve been removing the trees and hedgerows and denuding the soil, which are all carbon sinks. We’ve been removing the places where pollinators and other invertebrates that help to sequester carbon, renew the soil, and pollinate our crops, live.
These emissions are causing a global rise in temperature, driving climate change. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) considers that a temperature rise of two degrees Celsius would be catastrophic, leading to global sea level rise, coastal flooding, desertification and the collapse of food production. Global temperatures have already risen by one degree and are currently on track for a 4.5 degree rise by the end of this century if we do nothing. We can already see the effects in the wildfires in California, the Amazon and Australia, and in the much more powerful hurricanes that regularly batter the eastern seaboard of the USA. We can see it in the migration of wildlife, the earlier spring, the hotter summer and the unprecedented warming of the arctic (with the melting of the polar ice and irreversible Greenland glacier melt). We are in danger of the collapse of the global ecosystem that sustains us, within our lifetimes or those of our children and grandchildren. The UK is not immune to these impacts and the East Anglian coastline is vulnerable to sea level rise.
Evolution of global mean surface temperature over the period of instrumental observations (IPCC): www.ipcc.ch.
Along with other councils in Suffolk, Martlesham Parish Council recently declared a Climate Emergency. In response to this, we’ve formed Martlesham Climate Action, a working group dedicated to the twin themes of Carbon Reduction and Improving Biodiversity. It’s early days but we have some plans in formation and enthusiastic members. If you’re interested in knowing more, take a look at our website and drop us an email (addresses below).
Here are a few ideas you might want to think about to start making a difference in your own life, to turn things around.
Wilding: leave the margins of your lawn to grow long; build a log pile in the corner of the garden; cut hedgehog holes in the fences with the neighbours for a wildlife corridor; put up a nesting box or two, or a bee hotel; hang up some bird-feeders (and top them up regularly); bury that old washing up bowl in the garden as a pond and watch the frogs and damselflies take it over; buy some wildflower seeds next time you’re at the garden centre and plant them out.
Carbon Reduction: walk to the supermarket for those couple of forgotten items, rather than jumping in the car. If you’re looking to change your car, think about an electric one (you won’t be able to buy a pure petrol or diesel car after 2030). Switch to a 100% renewable electricity supplier and when your boiler packs up, look at the option of a Heat Pump instead (new homes built after 2025 won’t be fitted with gas boilers). At the moment, the Renewable Heat Initiative will cover much of the cost. There is plenty of advice on heat pumps and solar panels available from members of Martlesham Climate Action carbon reduction forum, with case studies on our website and in our next In Touch article here. If you would like to see the installation of a heat pump, solar panels and/or battery system, contact us and we’ll put you in touch.
This article runs in the February issue of the Martlesham edition, which you can read in full by clicking on Magazines.