has released a new report which has been getting some publicity because of the changed nature of its warnings over other previous reports, injecting a note of urgency which has always been there but which many people have simply ignored because to act was less inconvenient than carrying on as normal.
We have seen over the summer that the major floods in Germany and surrounding areas and further afield in China are a sign of a new shift in the nature of extreme weather events.
The report identifies five "reality checks" about climate change:
- The Environment Agency alone "cannot protect everyone from increasing flood and coastal risks". Agency staff have long warned of the long-term dangers of an accelerating rise in sea level and of shifts in rainfall patterns
- Climate change "makes it harder to ensure clean and plentiful water". This comes as demand for water rises as the population grows, especially in eastern and south-east England
- Environmental rules are "not yet ready for a changing climate". The regulations on water use and pollution weren't drawn up with such rapid changes in mind
- "Ecosystems cannot adapt as fast as the climate is changing". This is a factor in the losses in biodiversity, particularly among freshwater species
- There'll be "more and worst environmental incidents". Emergencies in flooding, water shortages and pollution will strike more often and with greater severity.