Climate change debate

University of Worcester students set out to examine the dramatic impact flooding and climate change has had on our beautiful city

Our plans as first year Sustainability students have quickly changed, due to the weather and flooding issues the city has been facing this week. We felt compelled to report on the issues brought by floods in Worcester, from our unique point of view.


Setting out from the St John’s campus towards the dramatically swollen River Severn, we saw the devastation the weather brought with it. We became even more convinced now is the time to talk about our impact on the climate.

Oxford University scientists have been warning us for nearly twenty years that climate change could lead to wetter winters and increased flooding. Keeping this in mind, less than 7% of news reports about the floods in the traditional media mention climate change!

The Met Office and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology issued a report on the recent storms just yesterday that announced for the first time that climate change is linked almost certainly with the extreme weather conditions we’ve been experiencing first hand in Worcester.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in 2007 that the risk of flash flooding and urban flooding will increase drastically.

This doesn’t only disturb our routines for a while, but leaves the country with major damaged. In 2004, the Association of British Insurers reported that the claims from storms and flood damages doubled between 1998 and 2003 in the UK, reaching over £6 billion. They also predicted a further increase of 300% by 2050.

In this context, we think a debate about climate change is essential and we shouldn’t forget to look at the causes of what is going on, in addition to dealing with the devastating effects of the following days. The Environment Agency is being closely watched, as they report to the floods. Conditions are expected to deteriorate further, with many areas seeing more than double their average rainfall.

  5 comments for “Climate change debate

  1. February 14, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Stern who authored the 2006 report on the economics of climate change writing in the Guardian today is beginning to redress the balance on media reporting. He states ‘The devastating floods and storms sweeping Britain are clear indications of the dangers of climate change’. At the last day of Go Green Week where the students have been raising awareness of climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions this article is very welcome.
    He said the five wettest years and the seven warmest years in the UK have happened since 2000, which is explained by a clear body of evidence showing that a warmer atmosphere contains more water and causes more intense rainfall. When this is combined with higher sea levels in the English Channel, the risk of flooding increases.
    Recent UK weather is part of an international pattern of extreme weather which proves the dangers of climate change and the need to cut carbon emissions, Stern said.
    We feel the impact in Worcester and Lord Stern predicts “If we do not cut emissions, we face even more devastating consequences, as unchecked they could raise global average temperature to 4C or more above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.’’

  2. Colin Archer
    February 14, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Even the BBC has mentioned climate change in the last couple of days, but still gives prominence to climate change deniers like Lord Lawson. It seems that there are strong vested interests in fossil fuels and rubbishing renewable energy projects and enthusiasts.

  3. Katy Boom
    February 17, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Letters page in Saturdays Guardian from Andy Ross visiting professor, University of Reading told a tale of how he foolishly mentioned to Stern it might be nice if the UK got a little warmer. I quote ‘With patience borne of dealing with lesser intellects, he asked me if I ever had boiled eggs for breakfast. He pointed out that in heating the pan the water stays still for a long time, but in the space of a few more degrees starts to swirl more and more violently. That is what trapped energy does to the atmosphere: it makes the weather more volatile and extremes more likely’.

    He goes on the explain ‘ although the average temperature increase will be small, the temperature range will get much bigger and UK winters much wetter.’

    So simply put, this is what we need to help us all understand climate change and it’s impacts, something in the city of Worcester we’ve felt acutely in recent weeks.

    It’s important to find ways that complex science can be communicated well, this is a gem.

  4. Christopher Lopez
    February 19, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    I find this article very interesting because I was really curious as to why Worcester was flooding so dramatically. These are really unnerving statistics!

  5. October 6, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Good article. I definitely love this website. Keep writing!

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