Is climate change leading to a 'perfect storm'?

Academics, government and business came together today (February 17) at the Royal Geographical Society to discuss climate change.

Satellite view of Queensland floods

Satellite view of Queensland floods

Speakers included Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, Julia Slingo, Chief Scientist at the Met Office and Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business at M&S.

The central theme being discussed was food, water and energy shortages and what impact this will have around the world.

The topic was raised in 2009 by the government's chief scientist, Professor Sir John Beddington, who coined the phrase: 'the perfect storm'.

His prediction was that shortages in resources could create major destabilisation around the world and massive shifts in population, as people migrate to access food, water and energy.

Weather patterns caused by climate change impact massively on these resources as the world experiences more frequent, more extreme weather, such as flooding and drought.

Julia Slingo, Chief Scientist from the Met Office highlighted the concerns of increasingly extreme weather.

2010 was the second warmest year on record, with the long-term trend showing temperatures rising. Pakistan has the worst floods since 1929, with 1781 people dying as a result.

In Russia there were heat waves and wildfires and the worst drought since records began 130 years ago.

While some of these extreme weather conditions are the result of natural variability, she said, there is no doubt that climate change intensifies these occurrences.

While reducing CO2 emissions was one way of reducing the impact, other science needs to be developed to mitigate climate change, she said.

The science is not there yet, she said but organisations are joining up to addressing the risks.

The UK Climate Service has been formed by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Met Office and business.

The service aims to deliver and interpret predictions on climate in order to plan and adapt for climate change. Alison Brown


| CO2 | extreme weather | drought


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