Climate Change Disrupts UK Sport

Extreme weather conditions caused by climate change are threatening the future of some of the UK’s favourite sports, including cricket, football and golf. A report by the Climate Coalition, a campaign group, urges sporting bodies to adapt to the changing environment.

Climate change is altering weather patterns around the world. In the UK, it has resulted in more rain. Over 25 per cent of England’s one-day cricket international matches have been reduced by rain since 2000. The winters of 2013–14 and 2015–16 had rainfall that was 50 per cent higher than average, leading to the flooding of sports facilities across the country.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has given £2.6m in emergency grants to cricket grounds in the past two years to help cover the cost of lost revenue from rain-affected matches. The board has set aside a further £2.5m a year to help local clubs mitigate the effect of increased rainfall, such as flood repairs and keeping grounds fit to play through the summer season. The issue is leading to fears that public interest in cricket could falter.

Credit: Andy Hay (CC BY 2.0)

Local football clubs have also been hit, with clubs losing five weeks each season on average due to bad weather and waterlogged pitches. Partly in response to these issues, the Football Association is investing £48m in installing artificial ‘all-weather’ pitches across the country.

In Scotland, the home of golf, more than 16 per cent of the nation’s 600 golf courses are located on the coast. But coastal erosion, rising sea levels and storm surges are threatening famous venues, such St Andrews and Royal Troon. Even a small increase in sea levels could wash away all of the nation’s famous links courses – which are built on dunes, sandy soil and grassland – by the end of the century.

At Montrose Golf Links, the North Sea has advanced 70 metres from the coast in the past 30 years, forcing the club to change some holes and abandon others altogether. Montrose has tried to defend its coastline with rock armour, but it is seeking government funding for more measures to help save the course from erosion.

Re-aligning golf courses to deal with sea defence is expensive but can be done.

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