Effects of temperature rise on Swindon

The BBC recently produced a report on increasing temperatures in towns and cities with predictions up to 2100, and it included Swindon, see here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-985b9374-596e-4ae6-aa04-7fbcae4cb7ee . However it does not elaborate on what that would mean for us, so here are some thoughts.

Seemingly small increases in average temperatures over a relatively short timescale would cause huge problems even for places like Swindon, which would not likely be directly affected by sea level rise. London, Bristol and all our coastal towns and cities would be directly affected by substantial sea level rise, causing displacement of people worse than after world war 2 and making Swindon a destination for refugees from these cities within the UK let alone from other countries that would feel the effects of global warming more directly.

Increases in extreme weather, both heat in summer and cold in winter, would put pressure on our food supply and ability to get food from the surrounding countryside. Plants that have evolved over centuries and millennia to adapt to our current climate would not be able to adapt so quickly to the change in weather conditions and would stop yeilding, so we would be looking for different varieties that would survive the climate and local plant pests and diseases.

We have already lost most of our more delicate animal species such as butterflies over the last few decades. This is due to pesticide use as well as climate change, but there is a danger that previously common species will die out much faster than new ones can adapt, leaving us with the more virulent and adaptable pests like flies, aphids, rats and pigeons and less variety of others.

The sub-equatorial desert regions in Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Americas would see greater than average rises in temperature and these regions would expand. With countries around the world competing for dwindling food supplies Swindon would have to be much more self sufficient locally, and feeding even today’s population would mean major changes in diet – most food would be plant based as that uses land so much more efficiently, there is no way we would all be able to eat anything like the amount of meat we do on average today even if it were not for the climate changing methane emissions produced by animals, especially cows and sheep and other ruminants that eat grass.

Flooding would likely become a more serious problem here with more extreme weather events. For Swindon the areas that are already known flood risks will be at even greater risk… https://flood-map-for-planning.service.gov.uk/confirm-location?easting=414969&northing=184761&placeOrPostcode=Swindon and those areas will widen. We need to be planting more trees to be resilient and not building near these areas.

Our homes would have to be more resilient to heat and cold as well as wasting less energy. Thats why in our local plan we need to have rules to make the new building planned for Swindon fit for the future. Solar orientation, air tightness (to reduce draughts) and insulation are crucial. Best modern practice like the Passivhaus standard keeps internal temperatures very stable and massively reduces heating (and cooling) costs, but there is a danger that the local planning authority will continue to allow building to the lowest legal standards. Mass builders usually prefer a few percent more profit over producing future fit houses and are delaying adaptation to our future needs. Swindon council is looking for your views on our next Local Plan before 23 September, you can comment here:  https://swindon-consult.objective.co.uk/portal/lpr/emerging_strategies/lpes