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Stackyard News Apr 07

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Climate Change - Complete Codswallop or Cleaner Wellies?

If the media have anything to do with it, climate change will either bring about the end of the world or does not exist. Channel 4 recently aired a documentary further fuelling the anti climate change debate. The views expressed there were seized on by many farmers, whose first hand experience of the weather is not without weight – it's a key part of their business after all – which is more than can be said for some eco-warriors!

Richard Garland

Richard Garland

As main sponsor of NSA North Sheep 2007  being held on Wednesday, 6 June is at North Hanging Wells, Bishop Auckland George F. White  are hosting a seminar giving farmers the opportunity to consider some of the likely effects of climate change, and what they can realistically do now to be best prepared. Richard Garland, a Trainee Chartered Surveyor with George F. White who was awarded a distinction for his MSc Dissertation - The impact of Climate Change on the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be one of the key note speakers on Climate Change at NSA North Sheep 2007.  

Reflecting on some of the issues, Richard argues that the issue has produced lots of smoke and noise! "It would be easy to think that the whole notion has been invented by the media to plug a major news gap. Indeed, many farmers who I come into contact with on a daily basis consider this to be the case, with the debate being fuelled further Channel 4's programme."

The purpose of the seminar is to examine the question – as Richard puts it "Is climate change a media snowball; or will it actually mean anything to the way you farm?" Listening to him shows that there are serious issues at hand.

Climate change research employs some of the best brains (and beards) of the academic world, with millions of pounds being pumped into the prediction of future climates via computer models. It is easy to dismiss these models as being simplistic or un-tested, but they are the best resource we have for future prediction. After all, any scientific model is only theoretical until it can be proven via observation. Observation bears out that we are entering a period when we are seeing changes in the climate, to a point where it is noticeable to us all on a daily basis.

The fact is that something is happening to our weather. Whether it is climate change brought on by humans, or short term variability, remains to be proven. The winter just passed was the second warmest since records began, and the past five years have been the warmest on record. Coincidence? Well maybe, or could we be seeing the beginning of the observational proof of the climate change pudding?

So will it affect your farm? The short answer is maybe. The increase in temperatures and changes to rainfall regimes predicted cannot be examined in isolation. They must be considered alongside other factors such as market forces (global and local), government support schemes (or lack of) and the individual characteristics of each farm (and farmer). As such there is no magic formula for determining the impact on your farm.

The good news is that no-one is suggesting an overnight sea-change to the way you will have to farm. More probable will be subtle changes in the way farms operate, driven by an aggregate of all the above factors. There will undoubtedly be climate change winners and losers and the key to remaining one of the former may be an open minded and forward thinking approach. The climate predicting computer models are a hugely valuable tool, available to everyone in the fight to stay ahead of the game.

George F White's Seminar NSA North Sheep 2007, in County Durham, will use case study farms to show how the region, and individual farms, may be able to envisage the impacts of climate change without the scientists even getting their sandals dirty.

George F. White is one of the leading independent firms of chartered surveyors and property professionals in the North East of England.  They have offices in Alnwick and Tyne Valley in Northumberland, Wolsingham in County Durham, Bedale in North Yorkshire and Mayfair in London.

link Launch of Scotland's First Environmental Focus Farm
link Higher Grain Prices put Pressure on Biomass Competitiveness
link Agricultural Waste Exemptions Deadline Looms

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