Yesterday me and a couple of mates decided to go to the exhibition 'Exposed' at Nottingham Castle. Organised by the National Trust, the exhibition features a number of photographers who through their work have tried to document the various effects climate change already has in the UK. Although the exhibition was a lot about the National Trust and how climate change effects their buildings and gardens, it was an interesting look at some of the less visible changes happening today. The exhibition is free for city residents (take proof) and definitely worth seeing.
Some of the problems visualized at the exhibition were things that we easily associate with climate change. More extreme weather conditions such as floods, seasonal changes and higher temeratures. Take the river 'Allen' in Northumberland for example: in recent years people from the National Trust have noticed a remarkable decrease in the river flows. 'Low river flows make it difficult for fish such as salmon and sea trout to migrate. Northumberland is one of the last strongholds of the white clawed crayfish, but would soon perish if its rivers were to dry up'.
In the river 'Tweed' in the Borders region of Scotland higher temperatures often encourage algae to flourish. These quickly form into a dense mat which removes oxygen from the water as it rots. Startved of oxygen, fish and other wildlife are unable to survive. So our rivers, an important part of our wildlife and ecosystems is under threat. Flooding and erosion has also washed soil and damaged riverbanks and habitats. The problem of erosion goes further: at Kinder Scout in the Derbyshire Peak District, the moorland is getting more and more damaged. The underlying peat is exposed, and starts releasing carbon, which it naturally stores. It is expected the worlds peatlands hold an incredible amount of sequestered carbon. The worlds peat releases approx. 2.000.000.000.000 to 4.500.000.000.000 kilograms of methane into the atmosphere every year. The peatlands' contribution to climate change has become a serious concern. [ref]
The exhibition was cut up in various sections. A couple of sections were dedicated to how the changing climate effects the properties managed by the National Trust. At Blickling Hall in Norfolk, infestations of deathwatch beetle are damaging the book collection. Basically it is slowly being eaten. Other things issues included damper conditions, in which old properties slowly rot away and moth infestations in some of the textile collections. Due to higher temperatures the moths are able to survive all year 'round instead of being killed off by the cold winters, which has always been the case.
One of the things that striked me was the photography of Snowdonia with the notion that in about 50 years time nearly all the snow there will be gone. 'The 'permanent' snowline above 610m (2000ft) in the winter is already a thing of the past. Predictions suggest that by 2080 there may be up to 80% less snow and more winters with no snow at all'.
The Castle and the City Council have put together an extra room which visitors are led through at the end of the walkaround. The room is full of promotional material about the councils commitment to tackling the issue of climate change and various photos of 'green initiatives' in the city. Some of it is interesting and a video of educational projects in local schools shows that stuff is happenning. One photograph showed St. Anns and beared a description about how eco their energy is as it's the re-used heat scheme, generated by Eastcroft Incinerator. Needless to say, one activist had already been ahead of me by writing with a big marker pen 'Its Not Green Energy' over it (the little discription card, not the photograph).
It has become clear to me that if we want to continue to enjoy and preserve our coutryside, our Snowdonia, our Kinder Scout, our River Tweed for future generations, we need to get our ducks in a row and take serious action. Climate Change is happening. In our own backyards...
The exhibition is touring the UK and will visit Gwynedd, Bristol and Belfast in the next 6 months. It is on at Nottingham Castle until 1st July.
Climate Change in Britain's Backyard
Info on Nottingham Castle (City Council website)