Climate change is an issue that always causes people to react strongly – either accepting it exists or not!
The argument normally comes back to the fact that “it doesn’t affect me so why should I believe in it or bother with it”. Well a recent report from the Government suggests that it may have other more tangible effects on our life style.
According to the report Wi-fi internet access and other communications are at risk from global warming unless measures are taken to protect them from rising temperatures and storm weather. Apparently higher temperatures can reduce the range of wireless communications, rainstorms can impact the reliability of the signal, and drier summers and wetter winters may cause greater subsidence, damaging masts and underground cables.
This threat posed by climate change to internet and telephone access is a rare example of when the developed world would be hit harder than developing countries, which are in general more at risk from increased floods, droughts and rising sea levels.
The report is on how the UK’s infrastructure – from road and rail, to power stations, to water supplies – needs to be made more resilient to climate change. It raises a series of other potential risks. In addition to the impact on range and reliability, warmer temperatures and more intense storms may cause communications infrastructure to be flooded, or damaged by an increase in trees falling onto overhead lines. There is even the suggestion that changes in the plants that grow in the UK could affect how radio waves travel!
The report highlights that the UK’s entire major infrastructure will be affected by climate change, with examples of measures being introduced or needed including:
- • New types of road surfacing to prevent the tarmac melting during hot spells
• More heat-resistant rail tracks to prevent buckling
• The bolstering of road and rail embankments and bridges to protect from flooding or subsidence
• Better flood protection for nuclear and fossil fuel power stations
• Wind turbines designed to withstand stronger winds
• Stronger overhead power cables to avoid wire expansion and sagging in hotter summers.
£200bn is expected to be invested in the UK’s infrastructure over the next five years to start to address these issues.