By Mary Dorrell, Norfolk Federation
We do not inherit the planet from our ancestors, we simply borrow it from our children. So, for the love of future generations, we should pass it on in as good a state as possible.
We know a thing or two about climate change in Norfolk. In the 12th century the population of east Norfolk was growing rapidly and the area was densely populated. Trees had given way to farms and for cooking and heating the only fuel available was peat. It was a prosperous industry and provided fuel for individual families to use and good sales to local manors and abbeys. This extraction of peat changed the landscape.
The massive holes that had been created gradually began to fill with water as the sea levels rose and by the 14th century flooding was taking place on a regular basis and peat extraction was simply no longer possible. Probably the Great Storm of 1287 spelt the end of this way of life for many people in the area. The suffering must have been great. It would have been of no consolation to them that 600 years later a thriving tourist industry would employ many people in the area.
In recent times the North Sea storms and surges of 1936, 1953 and 2013 have caused death and destruction. In 1936 we nearly lost a whole Broad (Horsey Mere) to extensive flooding; in 1953, 100 people died in Norfolk; and in the 3 metre surge of 2013 we only narrowly avoided disaster by a few centimetres. Few human casualties this time, but hundreds of bewildered grey seal pups found themselves stranded on the top of the dunes.
Climate Change will bring us greater frequency of storms combined with sea level rise. There is a real threat to us, our environment, and our economy. Horsey Mere would probably be the first Broad to go, but many others would follow. And whilst Norfolk people are very adaptable, another 600 years of struggle and change is the sort of thing we want to avoid for future generations. For the love of the Broads, we need action now.
So on the 17th June, I will be coming to London along with other people from my constituency to talk to my MP, Richard Bacon. In the past he has been very responsive to our local flooding problems in the village where I live and am a Parish Councillor. We need to have a big conversation about this potential flooding issue: bigger than my village, bigger than Norfolk … in fact so big that we can only tackle it through international efforts. Efforts like the United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015, where we need our leaders to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.