It’s of no surprise that climate change is here, it’s happening now, and is threatening small and large businesses alike. So much so, over 80% of executives are concerned about climate change and its impacts, according to Deloitte Global’s 2021 Climate Check report.
Globally, land temperatures are about 1.2C hotter than in pre-industrial times. Human activity, including the use of fossil fuels, combustion, deforestation and intensive agriculture, will continue to increase global surface temperatures until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios.
THE CLIMATE CRISIS IS A WATER CRISIS
Higher temperatures will generally intensify the global hydrological cycle. The UK Rainwater Management Association has unwelcome news: its Sustainable Water Supplies Briefing Guide quotes a government study suggesting that we have a ‘continually deteriorating position caused by the twin pressures of climate change and population growth’ and that, ‘if unaddressed, this will result in nearly all land in England becoming unable to sustain agriculture.’
Changes in our water resource, including low water and droughts, have severe consequences on most sectors. Activities that depend on high water abstraction and use, such as irrigated agriculture, hydropower generation and use of cooling water, will also be affected by changed flow regimes and reduced annual water availability. Moreover, wetlands and aquatic ecosystems will be threatened. – European Environment Agency
Organisations are now beginning to recognise the threat of scarcity/cost of resources (water, food, energy), ranking it as the second biggest issue already impacting their business as a result of climate change (second to climate-related disasters).
If we don’t take proactive action to preserve our water now, climate change will evaporate our opportunity. The climate crisis is a water crisis, and here are four reasons why.
GLOBAL WARMING IMPACTS THE WATER CYCLE
The most profound effect of global warming is how it affects the water cycle. Until now, this has often been overlooked, but it is starting to be obvious. Warmer temperatures increase the rate of evaporation of water into the atmosphere, in effect increasing the atmosphere’s capacity to “hold” water. This intensifies extreme weather events, for example, floods and droughts.
As temperatures rise, people, nature and businesses require more water to thrive. The amount of water available is already limited, but as temperatures rise, demand and competition for water resources increases. Are you comfortable with your business competing for water resources with your local community?
Think you know water? Take the water quiz to test your knowledge and learn more about the UK’s position.
UNPREDICTABLE WEATHER CAUSING WATER (AND FOOD) SHORTAGES
By not being able to predict, you are unable to prepare. Harsh, unpredictable weather patterns will make it more challenging prepare and plan ahead. Climate change is driving seasonal disparity to dangerous extremes which exaggerates the issue. While Britain seems to have more wet days than many of us would like, it’s the wrong kind of rain: too much, too quickly in winter and then too little stretched over a long, dry summer. Leading to dwindling aquifers, lakes, and rivers.
These summer heatwaves and droughts threaten to bring severe seasonal water shortages within our lifetimes. Not knowing when the next rain will fall makes farming and agriculture increasingly difficult. Putting pressure on our supply of food.
‘The wrong kind of rain: why Britain is not as wet as we think’ provides an interesting read on this topic.
POWERING OUR BUSINESSES, HOMES AND COMMUNITIES
Hydropower has increasingly been called upon to support the development of the UK’s variable renewable sector by providing peaking, balancing and other grid services, especially as wind generation has increased over ten-fold since 2007. As such, hydro generation saw a 15% increase in 2020.
As a consequence of extreme weather conditions and climate change, a combination of lower rainfall and higher evaporation has led to an increase in water demand and lower river and loch levels.
It’s understood that a quarter of England’s rivers are at risk of running dry. Not only will this have devastating consequences for wildlife, but it will also have a significant impact on the ability and output of our power grid.
PROTECT OUR LANDSCAPES, PROTECT OUR FUTURE
Oceans, wetlands and forests are Earth’s most important carbon sinks. Resilient landscapes, with the water cycle in balance, is essential to avoid dangerous tipping points and dramatically rising temperatures.
Increasing temperatures reduce water availability. This reduced water availability impacts the carbon sink effect of our wetlands and forests, and groundwater recharge. Which in turn leads to more carbon and greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, increasing Earth’s temperatures – forming an intensifying climate flywheel.
By protecting ecosystems when planning human societies, such as forests and wetlands, we’re able to sustain neutral levels of carbon and enable effective groundwater recharge – protecting our communities and providing a buffer against weather extremes.
Typically, forests absorb twice as much carbon as they emit each year. Mangrove forests can hold the equivalent of two years global greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s only becoming more clear the affinity between water and our climate. In order to solve one, we need to make progress on the other. Water is at threat of being left behind, and consequently, our progress on climate change is being left to chance.
IT’S TIME TO MAKE WATER WORK FOR YOU
Businesses like yours can help make real, positive progress on water, protecting our environment, our communities and our economy. In three simple steps, you can get proactive on water:
Step 1: Visibility
The first step is understanding your water usage. How much you use. Where. And when.
Step 2: Efficiency
Time to take action. Solving problems, achieving efficiency and saving costs. Set targets and develop plans for hitting them.
Step 3: Resilience
Create your own unique strategy for water sustainability. So, whatever happens, your business is water secure.
Business Guide to Water Efficiency
We worked in association with edie to create a Business Guide to Water Efficiency, which includes an industry viewpoint from our Managing Director, Neil Pendle, and a Self-Supply customer’s water journey success! You can download the guide for free here: The Business Guide to Water Efficiency
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