They are known as the garden of England, but Kent and its southeastern neighbours could be too dry to support anything but cattle and sheep by 2100, Met Office scientists have warned. They suggest that the new gardens of England will instead be in the north and west of Britain with warmer temperatures turning even hilly moorland areas into fields with arable crops replacing sheep. The predictions are based on the world failing to make significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions over coming decades, a scenario that could lead to 4C-5C of global warming that would dry up soils. “This causes the previously arable-dominant south and east to be completely reversed to grassland livestock farming by the end of the century,” said a paper published by a team of Met Office and Exeter University researchers. “The projected 5C warming . . . is predicted to cause farmers to abandon arable farming in southeast Great Britain.” It says the only way to preserve arable farming in places like Kent, Surrey and Essex would be through irrigation on a grand scale, but farms would need the region’s entire supply of rainwater. Water would have to be piped from wetter areas such as Wales and Scotland.
Times 20th Oct 2019 read more »