18 Jan 2007

Will your home be habitable by your grandchildren?

What Can We Do About Climate Change?

What Can We Do About Climate Change?

First UK findings of the world’s largest climate prediction experiment reported in BBC One and The Open University’s Climate Change – Britain Under Threat.

British scientists running the world’s most ambitious climate prediction experiment have confirmed many fears of what climate change will mean for the UK in the coming years – sweltering heat-waves, widespread flooding and storm surges.

Preliminary UK findings of the BBC Climate Change Experiment, which involved tens of thousands of people running climate prediction models on their home computers, will be revealed by Sir David Attenborough in Climate Change - Britain Under Threat - a co-production between the BBC and The Open University - which broadcasts on BBC One at 8.00pm on Sunday 21 January.

The documentary highlights threats from climate change, of floods, storm-surges and heat-waves, but there may also be a few opportunities: olive groves in Devon and the chance of Blackpool topping the league of European beach resorts.

Project co-ordinator Dr. Nick Faull of Oxford University describes the results: “People need to understand this is not a worst-case scenario: this is what we are increasingly confident will happen in the absence of substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.“

Professor Bob Spicer, Professor of Earth Sciences at The Open University and chief academic for the programme said: “By using the computers of many tens of thousands of people around the world, all of whom will be affected by climate change in some way or another, we have created the largest “virtual” supercomputer dedicated to climate change that the world has ever seen. We have been able to do calculations that even on a normal supercomputer would have taken decades to complete.”

Using the climate prediction results viewers will see snapshots of the future of Britain in 2020, 2050 and 2080 as Sir David guides us through 21st century Britain.

Sir David is joined in the BBC/Open University co-production by Kate Humble and Matt Allwright to investigate how climate change will affect our country and learn how it will affect where people choose to live, the cars they choose to drive and the natural world they treasure.

Flooding will no longer be an issue reserved for those living near flood prone rivers. Victorian sewers unable to cope with heavier downpours will cause havoc in major cities. Heat-waves like the summer of 2003 will become routine, making conditions in a typical Victorian terrace, and much of the London Underground, intolerable without expensive, and energy-hungry, air-conditioning.

Over 200,000 users downloaded the software from the BBC website. It was developed with the BBC by the climateprediction.net project and based on the Met Office climate model. Over 50,000 have already run the model long enough for their results to be scientifically useful. The experiment, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Microsoft Corporation, will continue and results will be fed into future scientific papers.

Professor Alan Thorpe, NERC’s Chief Executive, said, “NERC spends millions of pounds every year on climate change research so it’s particularly gratifying that the work of climateprediction.net has reached so many people around the world. Changes in climate affect many people and we need to continue to increase our scientific knowledge so that society can respond to the challenges.”

More detail on the results of the experiment is available from the BBC website: bbc.co.uk/climatechange. This includes a map showing all the people who took part, including people in Bhutan, Greenland and Siberia. On the site you can also see the world view, showing temperature change across the globe up to 2080. Further detail on the UK results includes graphs and UK maps showing regional differences. Viewers can watch video from the BBC One programme on the website after Sunday 21st.

The Open University has also produced a free guide to Climate Change.
What Can We Do About Climate Change? is a 12-page fold-out guide with information, practical advice, striking images and opportunities to take the subject further by studying related courses with the OU or becoming involved in the debate at various levels.

The guide is free of charge and can be ordered direct from the OU by calling 0870 942 1342 or through open2.net/climatechange

The Open University offers a number of related courses for viewers who have been inspired to learn more about issues explored during these programmes. The courses range from short ‘tasters’ through to more in-depth study in environmental science.

Editor’s Notes

‘Climate Change: Britain Under Threat’ is a BBC/ Open University co-production for BBC One

It will broadcast at 8.00pm on Sunday 21st January 2007.

The Executive Producer for the BBC is Phil Dolling; The Producer is Paul Bradshaw and Executive Producer for The Open University is Emma De’Ath.

The Open University and BBC have been in partnership for more than 30 years, providing educational programming to a mass audience. In recent times this partnership has evolved from late night programming for delivering courses to peak time programmes with a broad appeal to encourage wider participation in learning.

All broadcast information is correct at time of issue.

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