Climate Change & Global Warming.
It has been the wettest winter since national records began in 1910 & the combination of heavy rainfall, high tides & strong winds have resulted in the dreadful flooding that has affected much of the UK. This makes the timing of Climate Week particularly significant this year & the terms climate change & global warming feature highly, but what do they mean?
Essentially the earth is kept warm by what is called the greenhouse effect – the sun warms the planet & the atmosphere prevents the heat from escaping & keeps the earth warm enough for us to survive. The atmosphere contains greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2) & methane. Carbon dioxide is the most significant of these greenhouse gases & over billions of years, since the formation of the planet, its concentration in the atmosphere has decreased as it has been used by plants to photosynthesise & grow. Over time these plants & the animals that fed on them have died to produce fossil fuels such as oil & coal which have locked away the CO2. This cycle of CO2 still continues with uptake of CO2 by plants & water & release of CO2 from plants decaying, animals respiring & events such as volcanic eruptions. This is a delicate balance which is easily upset by even small changes caused by human activities. Two of the most significant effects being the burning of fossil fuels & deforestation, resulting in the release of vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere in conjunction with a reduction in photosynthesis. Scientific research & monitoring has shown that atmospheric CO2 levels have increased rapidly since the industrial revolution & this has been associated with an increase in global temperature (global warming). This in turn is having an effect on our climate (climate change) as a warming planet is consistent with more extreme weather patterns such as increasing cold & increasing rain. The Environment Agency have said that in the UK, we will witness more extreme events, such as flooding, storms, sea level rise and drought as well as wetter warmer winters and hotter drier summers.
Climate Week is Britain’s biggest climate change campaign, inspiring a new wave of action to create a sustainable future. Culminating in a week of activities on 3-9 March 2014, it showcases practical solutions from every sector of society that help people live and work more sustainably. Each year, half a million people attend over 3,000 events in Britain’s biggest environmental occasion. Events are run by schools, businesses, charities, councils and many others & participation is completely free.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
If you want to participate but don’t want to join in an organised event you can make small changes at home that will help reduce your carbon footprint. By living more sustainably you will contribute to the fight against climate change whilst cutting down on your household bills. Saving energy is one major contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions & as a lot of energy is used to supply households with clean water it also makes sense to reduce the amount of water you use:
- Make sure your home is well insulated & your thermostats are not set high. Turning down the room thermostat by one degree may save around £75 and 310kg carbon dioxide a year (energysavingtrust.org.uk).
- Switch off appliances rather than leaving them on standby & switch off your oven 10 minutes early, the heat that is trapped should be enough to finish off the cooking.
- Use less energy & water by making sure you have a full load in the washer, use a lower temperature & hang your washing out to dry when possible. Take shorter showers & don’t leave the tap running whilst you are washing or brushing your teeth.
- Consider moving your electricity or gas supply to a green energy provider who will invest in more sustainable energy sources. Check out how green your supplier is at the Ecotricity website
- Walk if you can rather than using the car or bus.
The more extreme weather events which are associated with climate change make it more important that we are aware of the water we use; that we can store & re-use it in times of drought whilst also making sure it can drain away freely in times of flood. Sewers are an important system in dealing with excess water in times of heavy rainfall so it is essential that they don’t become blocked. Don’t put wet wipes or anything other than toilet paper down the toilet & don’t put oils & fat down the sink – make sure they go in the bin.
There are also a number of things we can do to garden more sustainably which will make us more adaptable in the future. Try to create a more natural environment in your garden where resources are recycled. Our blogs on Garden Care will give you some ideas.
- Stop using pesticides & encourage wildlife to rid you of pests instead.
- Recycle where you can.
- Take plastic pots & trays to the recycling centre rather than putting them in the bin.
- Compost your household vegetable & garden plant waste (not perennial weeds), most local authorities offer compost bins at a subsidised cost or even free!
- Mulch or dig your compost into the garden rather than using chemical fertilisers or buy poultry manure pellets.
- Manage your water whether it is by collecting rainfall in a water butt or re-using the bath water.
- Buy peat free or reduced peat content compost. These alternatives don’t suit all plants so it is best to read the manufacturers guidelines on the packaging. The RHS recognises that more development into peat free compost needs to be undertaken. We stock New Horizon Multi-Purpose Compost which is organic & peat free. It isn’t suitable for ericaceous (lime hating) plants but it can be used for seed sowing, cuttings, pricking out, potting into tubs, planters containers and hanging baskets.
- Grow your own fruit & vegetables. Not only is this immensely satisfying but it is a healthy option with a low carbon footprint. Take a look at some of our Fruit & Veg Blogs for inspiration.
Why not have a go at eating sustainably too? There are lots of tasty recipes on the Climate Week Website or you could join Sir Paul McCartney’s campaign to have a Meat Free Monday. At Hayes Garden World on March 3rd we are offering our own Meat Free Monday dishes to give you the chance to do your bit for Climate Week. Our featured dishes are Mushroom Stroganoff, Vegetarian Lasagne & Oriental Vegetable Stirfry. Why not recreate the Mushroom Stroganoff at home.
Hayes Garden World Recipe For Mushroom Stroganoff:
- 450 g Brown Capped Mushrooms
- 2 Medium Onions
- 25 g Butter
- 150 ml Vegetable Stock
- 1 tsp French Mustard
- 1 tsp Tomato Puree
- 150 ml Sour Cream
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Cut the mushrooms in half and chop the onions finely. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the onions and mushrooms together over a moderate heat for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the Tomato Puree, Mustard, and Vegetable Stock, bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, and add Lemon Juice and Sour Cream.
- Heat through, but DO NOT allow to boil.
- Sprinkle with paprika and serve with fluffy basmati rice.
The United Nations estimates that livestock production accounts for about 15% of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, so reducing meat consumption is a key way to lower your carbon footprint. Having one meat-free day per week will make you healthier, wealthier & perhaps a bit wiser too!
So however you choose to support Climate Week you will be doing your bit for the planet.