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Should we care about climate change?

It’s not just about polar bears - it affects everyone and it will affect people on lower incomes more than those better off.

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Who can possibly deny that climate change is happening when the evidence is all around us? The planet is warming, deserts are expanding, sea levels are rising and weather is becoming more extreme.  Warmer oceans are holding less oxygen which means that the fish which feed much of the world will choke. It’s not just about polar bears - it affects everyone and it will affect people on lower incomes more than those better off.

A key threat from climate change is food shortage.  Bad weather has already caused shortages of some vegetables this winter and as climate change progresses we will get more and more extreme weather such as storms, floods and droughts. 

Too much water in some places and too little in others both damage crop yields and the pastures used to raise animals.  Pests and diseases thrive in warmer temperatures, which means either more crop losses or more, expensive, pesticides have to be used to maintain yields.  This is not science fiction – the United Nations climate change panel said in 2014 that these problems were already happening.  The situation has worsened since. 

Inevitably, food will become more expensive.  Not being able to buy a courgette in February is hardly a disaster for most of us but rising food prices may well be, especially for people on lower incomes.  Being able to afford a healthy meal for the family should not be the privilege of the rich but when food prices soar it may become so.

Our homes are under threat as well as our food.  Flooding will increase and cause misery for thousands of people.  Storms will continue to wreck roofs and other structures.  If you can afford insurance you may get the damage repaired and property replaced but not everyone can afford insurance, especially in high-risk areas.  Poorly-maintained rented properties are particularly at risk but landlords focusing on short-term income are unlikely to spend money protecting properties against storm damage – until it happens and tenants are made homeless.

Climate change is not just something for scientists to talk about and Tory politicians to pay lip-service to while cutting subsidies for climate-friendly energy.  It’s a problem for all of us and we must hold those who represent us to account for their actions. If we don’t, our children will never forgive us.

 This blog post was written by local Labour Party member, Brian Price. Join in the conversation by reacting with your comments below.

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