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Preparing for climate change in Wyre

What is climate change?

Climate change, as defined by the Met Office, is a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns and average temperatures. Whilst the earth naturally cycles through warmer and cooler periods over many years, the current rate that the planet is warming is much faster than ever before, due to our influence on the climate.

Since the industrial revolution, humans have been burning fossil fuels to make energy. This has released what are known as greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at a damaging rate - so much so, that some of the negative impacts of climate change are already locked in, even if we stopped releasing all emissions today.

Greenhouse gases are named as such because they trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere, like a greenhouse. The main greenhouse gases include: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. These all have different warming effects on the planet. Therefore, to make calculations easier, these are usually grouped together and called carbon emissions. Take the WWF questionnaire to learn more about your own carbon footprint. 

How does climate change affect the world?

The increased amount of greenhouse gases that we are releasing into the atmosphere is causing the earth to heat up much quicker than ever before. As our weather system is very sensitive to changes in temperature, this has knock-on impacts for our weather system, causing extreme weather events like flooding, droughts and severe storms.

This in turn leads to loss of habitat and biodiversity, increased health problems, mass migration as people are displaced from their homes, and many more negative impacts.

Read the BBCs climate change explanation for more information.

How does climate change affect Wyre?

We are already seeing the effects of the changing climate in Wyre. Intense storms and flooding have badly affected local residents and communities along the River Wyre such as Churchtown and St Michael's on Wyre in recent years. This is likely to worsen with climate change. Other low-lying areas will also be affected by surface water flooding following heavy downpours, where rain cannot drain away fast enough on paved surfaces.

One of Wyre’s greatest challenges will be sea level rise, due to the nature of our low-lying geography and the number of residents living along the coast. We are working hard to protect our communities from coastal flooding, however melting ice caps and expanding seas are increasing the risk to our residents. 

We are also at risk of extreme heat, impacting our food and water supplies, as dangerous heatwaves become more common. This will impact our farmers as crops are affected, as well as our elderly population and young infants who cannot regulate their temperature. Altogether, these impacts increase pressure on our healthcare services. 

The likelihood of these impacts depends on how quickly we can all reduce our emissions. The more we can do now, the less extreme these impacts will be in the future. 

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