World, December 22, (Pal Telegraph-south wales) – N 2040 Carmarthenshire is experiencing a range of impacts from climate change, both within the area and through the effects on the global and national economy.
The landscape, infrastructure and the social fabric of communities is affected.
Global average temperatures have continued to rise up to four degrees centigrade from 2008 levels, as the global economy has failed to curb emissions.
This has caused environmental catastrophe in low lying areas around the world.
A total of 250 million people are now living outside their country of origin.
The EU and UK has opened its doors to environmental refugees. UK Government policy requires Carmarthenshire to accommodate 6,000 additional migrants within its valley communities and main towns over the next five years, stretching local services significantly beyond their limit.
Regional economies all over Europe are becoming retrenched as a result of failing food supply chains due to climate change elsewhere.
There are signs that the local food economy is responding positively to more local demand. While local agriculture has been able to diversify, the crops it is able to grow and further population growth has put water resources under extreme pressure.
The water cycle is less predictable making medium water planning difficult.
The past four summers have seen standpipes (to provide running water in areas with no other water supply) in many of Carmarthenshire’s communities and local politicians are being called to account in the local media.
There are drives by water companies for a new reservoir in Carmarthenshire to help this situation, but this would mean flooding existing communities and a designated nature conservation site in a valley in the north of the borough.
Wales is experiencing unprecedented flooding as sea levels have risen by two metres (double the predicted levels due to ice melt and ocean expansion) and rainfall has become more extreme in both winter and summer.
This has made some communities in Carmarthenshire untenable. There is not enough money for flood protection and there is a clear need to relocate up to 20,000 people in the short term and plan for future migration inland.
There are some critical infrastructural problems resulting from increased flooding in Carmarthenshire.
On the coast there is an old landfill site which, if flooded, would cause dispersed pollution affecting an internationally protected nature reserve and coastal communities.
The main transport routes in the area are regularly affected by flooding, increased subsidence and landslips — this is affecting the local economy and potential investment from outside Wales.
Travel is interrupted by road surface melt and buckling rails due to hotter temperatures in summer.
Sewerage and drainage systems are not coping with increased summer rainfall.
Regular heatwaves every summer (34 degrees centigrade-plus) are causing increased mortality and acute health problems among the elderly and very young.
Schools are regularly closed due to high temperatures and many care centres are finding it difficult to keep residents cool due to high energy prices for air conditioning and un-adaptable facilities.
The local tourist economy is experiencing growth as skiing is no longer available in Europe and fuel prices are high.
Many UK residents are holidaying in Wales due to its environmental quality.
There is greater public use of public open space and demand for local recreational facilities including several planning applications for open air swimming pools.
Increased tourist numbers are testing existing parks, transport and waste infrastructure to the limit.
For service providers and organisations in Carmarthenshire the speed of climate change and subsequent impacts and demands have come as a shock.
All of the trends are set to continue and worsen due to past emissions already within the climate system.
A strategic and decisive response is required from the local authority and partners to ensure basic wellbeing of its citizens.”