Today Leeds City Council has published plans to fight the climate emergency and work towards becoming a carbon-neutral city. Dr. Paola Sakai, UKRI Research and Innovation Fellow, University of Leeds, talks about what it means for Leeds and if there is anything we can do to help.
“Winter is here: the days are chilly and nights are longer. We wrap up and try to stay cosy. Time to get the scarves and gloves out, and warm up with the thoughts of Christmas. Bring out your brolly too, as it might rain. Actually, it has been raining quite a lot lately, now that I think of it…
Paola continues “According to the Environment Agency, over half of rivers, including our own River Aire in Leeds, are higher than normal for this time of the year. The reason is that the amount of rain that has fallen over our country in the last three months has been a lot (approximately 1.5 times more than the average for 1961 to 1990).
Merely four years ago, several towns and cities in Yorkshire woke up in the early hours of Boxing Day to the dreadful sound of alarms announcing an imminent flood. In the Leeds City Region, over 4,000 homes and around 2,000 businesses were flooded with costs amounting to millions of pounds. Since then, towns have been working hard to minimise risks, such as the Flood Alleviation Scheme. This is particularly important since the Met Office has indicated that it is likely that Britain will face wetter winters in the coming years, along with warmer and drier summers. This means not only that we might have to wear our raincoats more often, but also that flooding incidents, such as the ones faced by many of our towns and cities in recent years, will become less exceptional occurrences.
We live in a world with environmental challenges and while we need to do everything we can to prevent the planet from getting warmer, we also need to learn how to protect ourselves from these extreme events. We tend to see climate change as something far away on the distance, and far in time. However, challenges are coming to town. We have problems, but we also have solutions, and this is where we need to focus our efforts.
Remember that while we wrap up ourselves and get ready for the Christmas break, there are things happening to our world that are worth being aware of: wetter winters are coming and we need to be prepared for that.
Some things you can do this winter:
Check if you are in a flood zone , or view the maps. If so, sign up to the alerts, and perform a quick plan, learn what to do before, during and after a flood. It is incredible how just thinking ahead triggers a response attitude when the time comes. There are many simple things you can do to decrease your risk, check out National Flood Forum for useful information.
Improve the insulation in your home by caulking around windows, doors, and pipes to seal air gaps; and add weather-stripping to doors and windows, here are more tips to prepare your home: not only will your house stay warm and cosy, but you can also help reduce your overall heating needs and heating bills. Never try to heat your home using a gas stove, oven, barbeque grill, or dryer. Gas-burning heaters or other appliance needs to be operated in a well vented or opened room, never where you are sleeping. If you use a fireplace or a wood stove burn the right wood, the right way, in the right appliance.
Stay active, eat well and if you have difficulties with cooking check Meals on Wheels. Get a flu jab, join the Looking out for neighbours campaign, if you are traveling by car check out these recommendations of driving in severe weather and what to have in your car.
But above all, wrap up, be prepared and have a fantastic holiday season”