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Inside Out: Living with global warming in the UK

Politics / Climate Change Mar 27, 2007 - 11:59 AM GMT

By: Submissions

Politics

BBC findings suggest best and worst locations to live and people's attitudes to climate change.

The city of Birmingham could be the worst place to live in Britain if you want to avoid climate change, according to one of Britain's leading climatologists in an interview for BBC One 's Inside Out programme Climate Change Now (Friday 30 March at 7.30pm).

Dr David Viner , a senior scientist at the world renowned Climatic Research Unit, favours Somerset, South West Devon and inland North Norfolk as among the best places to live with climate change in the future (see Notes to Editors for full list).


Willingness to reduce carbon footprint found to vary by region

Inside Out also commissioned an opinion poll with ICM which suggests that three-quarters (76%) of people in Britain say they have noticed the effects of climate change with 66% believing that it is the result of human activity.

Overall 61% of people said they were prepared to make lifestyle changes to reduce their carbon emissions by taking measures such as giving up flying or using their car less.

But the survey found that people's willingness to change their lifestyles around Britain varied. People living in Wales (69%), London (67%) and North West England (67%) were most inclined to change their behaviour whilst those surveyed in the North East (44%) and the West Midlands (54%) were the least likely to try to reduce their carbon footprint.

Best and worst cities

Dr Viner, who is about to take a new job advising Natural England on tackling global warming, journeyed from Norfolk to the tip of Cornwall to present this Friday night's BBC One Inside Out documentary.

The scientist is also a contributing author and expert reviewer on the latest Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change report.

Viner, whose views provoked controversy among some people during filming in Birmingham, says that Birmingham like all the major urban cities fares badly because of air pollution compounded by traffic congestion:

"Hot summer temperatures, coupled with air pollution and the tendency for extreme storms will make Birmingham an unpleasant place to live," said Dr Viner.

Birmingham is one of England's most congested cities with 13 million journeys made each year. Big cities like Birmingham also fare worse because of what Dr Viner calls "the urban heat island effect".

Viner adds: "Buildings absorb the heat of the sun so they're always hotter at night .. and global warming means that by the end of the century it could be up to 4 degrees Celsius hotter in Birmingham."

Rising sea levels and water shortages

According to Dr Viner, water will have the greatest impact on England in the future. Rising sea levels are already causing problems at places like Mullion Cove in Cornwall.

The National Trust, which has spent £1 million on repairs at the harbour, has already announced it will give it up if major damage is repeated in the future.

Extreme storms are likely to increase the vulnerability of Happisburgh cliffs in Norfolk, where 26 homes have already fallen into the sea. Cliff erosion has left others toppling on the edge.

Dr Viner says drier summers in the future will bring water shortages in southern England, particularly if warmer temperatures attract more tourists.

However, wetter winters will increase the flood risk for people living along the River Severn in particular.

Inside Out also explores the wildlife winners and losers across the country as birds and plants migrate northwards pushing out some native species. And each region explores its local issues and impacts in the programme.

Notes to Editors

Inside Out Special "Climate Change Now" is on BBC One, Friday 30 March at 7.30pm. For more information visit bbc.co.uk/insideout.

One thousand people across Great Britain were surveyed by ICM for the Inside Out opinion poll, conducted on 28 February and 1 March 2007.

Dr Viner reveals the places he thinks most likely to benefit from global warming include parts of: Somerset including Weston-Super-Mare, Chard and Shepton Mallet; Totnes and Dartmouth in Devon; Holt and Fakenham in North Norfolk; the Yorkshire Dales; and areas of South West Wales to the west of the Gower peninsula.

Places that Dr Viner thinks will be worst affected by climate change include: Birmingham; London; Leeds; Sheffield; Manchester; Bristol; River Severn towns; Atlantic-facing coastal villages in Cornwall; Happisburgh in Norfolk and The Fens.

During filming for the programme, Dr Viner was among the BBC team involved in attempts to rescue two people washed into the sea in gale force winds at Mullion in Cornwall. Dr Viner risked his own life to try to save one of the people by throwing them a fishing buoy. Two people died.

NT


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