27 April 2017 by Alison Hallas
As Ramblers, we notice changes to the environment perhaps more than most.
We are regularly out walking in our favourite places and can see first-hand the impact of a changing climate, such as spring flowers starting earlier and the damage caused to paths by storms.
While the UK’s weather has always been notoriously changeable, there are definite shifts in the seasons and floods, droughts and heatwaves are becoming more erratic and more pronounced.
There’s no doubt about it, the science behind climate change is mind-boggling and it can be difficult see how carbon emissions are linked to what we are experiencing. However, the weight of evidence is now compelling and most people believe it, although I can think of one or two high-profile exceptions!
There are changes happening to our weather patterns which are linked to human activity and the impacts will affect everyone. There has been devastation in Cumbria over the past few years, due to record-breaking rainfall. Even smaller storms can severely damage footpaths, footbridges and sometimes even road bridges. Our flood defences need to be improved and designed to withstand a rise in sea levels and higher intensity storms and surges, changing our coasts and riverbanks.
We don’t only see the effects when we’re out walking - even at home, we could be affected by climate change in so many ways. Modern houses are built to be energy efficient and retain warmth, but how do they cope in heatwaves? And we get our drinking water from rivers and groundwater - we can store some of it in reservoirs, but it doesn’t take long for a lack of rain to turn into a hosepipe ban.
As Ramblers, we pride ourselves on our green credentials.
We join with other environmental charities to press for greater protection for our habitats, air and water, to make our environment better able to withstand the effects of climate change. We promote walking in urban areas as well as the countryside. It’s great for your health but it’s also a very sustainable activity.
Not only will our work in the urban environment improve the quality of the places we live and work but our vision for greener, walkable cities has huge benefits by encouraging more people to walk to shops, schools or work (therefore using less fuel) and the green spaces we’re campaigning for will help to cool the urban environment and soak up intense rainfall.
In the countryside, we want the places we walk in to be as green and beautiful as they can be. That’s why we support energy efficiency and conservation measures, investment in micro-generation and the development of new green energy technologies. If we keep emitting greenhouse gases as we are, our rural landscapes could really suffer, so renewable energy is a big part of the solution. But we want to see green energy schemes sensitively sized, designed and positioned, with better use made of the energy we generate.
This is why the Ramblers are supporting the Community Energy Coalition and their Community Energy Fortnight which will happen between 24 June and 9 July 2017.
This is a chance to find out more about Community Energy, and maybe visit an event near you. All of these schemes are making a positive difference in a way which minimises intrusion on the landscapes we love to walk in. Together we can help to protect the places we love and help them to respond to a changing climate.
Read more about our policies on renewable energy and climate change here.