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!
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
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.
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.
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