Big Climate Conversation
Clean Coast Outer Hebrides was selected by Impact Funding Partners as a representative of the Scottish Government to host The Big Climate Conversation on the Isle of Lewis at the Barvas and Brue Community Centre, as part of a programme of national events designed to engage the public, communities, businesses, industry and the public sector in a discussion about ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change. The public engagement strand of The Big Climate Conversation at Barvas and Brue Community Centre gave the people of the Isle of Lewis a chance to have their say on how Scotland responds to the Global Climate Emergency. The results are summarized below.
The Scottish Government has declared a Global Climate Emergency and is committed to doing what is needed to limit global temperature rises. The Scottish Government will help to do that responsibly in collaboration with Parliament and citizens. Transformational changes in the way we live are needed. It is important that everyone in Scotland is informed, prepared and able to take part.
Climate change, the increasing severity of extreme weather, and resulting floods are health and economic crises that we cannot ignore.
“We are already seeing signs of the effects of climate change on flooding and we fully anticipate that climate change will increase flood severity in the future. It’s something we need to look at very seriously,” – Jamie Hannaford, of the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.
To highlight the role that science plays to help address and mitigate issues such as flooding in communities across the Outer Hebrides, Clean Coast Outer Hebrides will host events such as the Big Climate Conversation, at Barvas and Brue Community Centre on the Isle of Lewis.
Floods are the costliest, most frequent type of disaster in the United Kingdom, accounting for deaths (8 in a single flooding event in September 2019) and costing 2.2 billion pounds every year. Flash flooding along rivers and streams causes an estimated 100 billion pounds in damage each year with flood magnitude increasing over the last 5 years, e.g., Edinburgh June, 2019. The impacts of natural disasters are long lived, people in Britain whose homes are damaged by disasters are 50 % more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Coastal flooding tied to rising sea levels is increasing and, even with clear skies on sunny days, puts communities in jeopardy.
An estimated 1 in 6 British citizens, 5.9 million homes, are at risk of flooding before they can pay off a 30-year mortgage. No county in the United Kingdom is spared the impact of flooding.
To build a solid foundation for a strong, more sustainable future: scientific collaboration, community collaboration, and financial support for science can help address the complex challenges posed by flooding and extreme weather nationwide. Science and scientists are key elements of these solutions, but they need support, and in turn, they must be relevant to, accessible to, and engaged with communities.
The key to solutions will be to
- empower communities to make informed decisions about their future
- empower scientists to conduct robust scientific research and data collection about flooding and its related issues
- prioritize partnerships that foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and better communication among scientists who study both the physical world and human behavior and between scientists and communities
Clean Coast Outer Hebrides plans to conduct outreach to communities, organizations, science centers, and policy makers who can help follow through on these recommendations
Scientists are on the front lines of protecting the U.K.’s public safety, health, and economy. Ensuring that their work can continue will inspire readiness, empower communities to make informed decisions about their future, and build a more resilient society for us all.
Summary of Results
Our event was advertised across the island and attracted 11 people who participated in the conversation. Feedback from the event was widely positive. A summary of the results are provided in the figures below.
The table below summarizes local people’s responses to the questions: “What does the group think that Scottish Government should be doing to mitigate climate change? What can the Scottish Government do to engage people more on climate change?”. Where 1 is highest priority, numbers above 3 are highlighted in orange. Note that group 2 did not prioritize any of the potential mitigation activities higher than 5.
We thank everyone for attending and making the Clean Coast Outer Hebrides part of the Big Climate Conversation a huge success!!! Thank you!!!