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    How will climate change affect us?

    Scientists predict that the long term effects of global warming will be heavy rainfall and melting ice caps, which will cause sea levels to rise and many areas will be flooded, submerged or eroded away. Hotter climates would lead to drought whilst a shift in the Gulf Stream could make the climate in countries like Britain much colder. Experts also fear risks to thousands of native plants and animals, and increased human health problems caused by infections from food and water or air pollution.

    Cut down electricity
    consumption by
    80% by switching to
    energy-saving low
    voltage light fittings
    and bulbs.

    Temperatures have already risen dramatically since the 1900s in Britain, but if global warming continues, the climate in the UK will get hotter and drier with bouts of intensely heavy rainfall. Coastal regions, particularly in the South East, will experience land erosion, building subsidence, or may even be lost altogether.

    Take action

    It is too late to prevent global warming but it is imperative that greenhouse gas emissions are cut by 60% to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change. Even a rise in temperature of 1 degree could alter rainfall cycles and raise the sea level. The most effective means of reducing this ‘greenhouse effect’ is to reduce our fuel consumption and protect the rainforests.

    The first, and simplest, thing we can do to minimise climate change is to change wasteful habits. Reducing your daily fuel consumption can make a large difference to the environment and to your fuel bills:

    • Turn off lights when they aren't needed and cut down electricity consumption by 80% by switching to energy-saving low voltage light fittings and bulbs.
    • Unplug or switch off chargers and don't leave appliances on standby. Did you know leaving your TV on standby uses nearly the same amount of electricity as to keep the TV on? An efficient TV should not consume more than 1W while on standby.
    • Avoid keeping your central heating at a high temperature. Use a timer or programmer so you only heat your home when necessary, and keep the thermostat at 21°C.
    • Heat water only when it is needed and switch the immersion heater or boiler off afterwards. Fitting a time switch will prevent water being heated unnecessarily and allow you to take advantage of off-peak electricity rates. Also, make sure your cylinder thermostat is not set higher than 60°C.
    • Choose a low temperature or economy setting for washing clothes and dishes, and use the tumble dryer as little as possible.
    • Keep your boiler and central heating system working efficiently by having them serviced and maintained regularly. You can reduce the formation of scale with a scale-inhibitor or a water-softener. You may need to replace an old system with a more environmentally-friendly model.
    • Be sparing in your use of energy guzzling appliances. Appliances which consume the most energy include: Tumble dryers, ovens, air-conditioning units, electric heaters, immersion heaters, fan heaters, and kettles. Only fill the kettle with the volume of water you require: It takes a kilowatt to heat a litre of water by 1°C.

    Next page: Save money saving the environment