OPINION: Is your summer holiday habit altering our climate for good?

Happy family waiting for flight and going on vacations. / holiday / summer / delays / flights / canc

Reducing your carbon footprint by not flying the family abroad for a summer holiday can have a long-term impact on the climate - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The great British summer holiday. It starts with piling bags, bodies and maybe even a dog or two into the car, before setting off up the road.

Normally that road is filled with other holidaymakers, meaning a torturous journey. 

But, several traffic jams and a nervous hunt for some service station loos later: arrival.

Once there, many attractions await. Whether it is the seaside, rolling hills or just doing nothing for a while.

Days can be spent on the beach, traipsing round National Trust properties or perhaps, if you're lucky, basking in the sun.

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A holiday on these shores has everything but the weather - a fact we have known and accepted for years.

But this year, as more people than ever holiday in the UK, the weather is providing a warning of worse things to come in years ahead. 

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In some places this has manifested itself as extreme heatwaves, while in others it has meant flash floods. Both have been deadly.

In the past we may jokingly have said that climate change could actually have improved the weather in the UK, that is now clearly false.

The planet is heating up and it is doing so because of human's impact, a terrifying recent UN report made this fact undeniable. But this will not affect all areas of the globe equally.

This warming could, it has been warned, affect the Gulf Stream which brings warm water from the Caribbean across the Atlantic to northern Europe.

This keeps the UK's climate reasonably balmy - while making sure that much-needed rains arrive regularly elsewhere on the planet.

It is possible that climate change could shift the route this warm water takes further south, dropping the UK's temperature by as much as 8C and disrupting important rainfall for billions of people.  

One impact of the warming that is already visible has been playing on my mind a lot this summer: hot air holds more water than cold air.

The deluges that have flooded parts of East Anglia and London Tube stations as well as killing several people in Germany may have been possible in years gone by, but they will become ever more likely in the years to come as the global mercury continues to soar.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recent report made clear, there is still time to act and prevent the worst consequences of climate change.

The Met Office's Chris Jones, who worked on parts of the report, said: "The report confirms that human activity is changing our climate here and now – but it also shows we have improved our knowledge of what we can do about it. 

"The future isn’t set in stone - urgent action to reduce emissions strongly now will still enable us to avoid the worst impacts that will surely come if we fail to act decisively."

But what is acting decisively?

In 2017, a report from the Climate Accountability Institute found that since 1988 more than half of the world's carbon emissions could be traced back to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. 

Unsurprisingly, these are largely major oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco and BP.

Figures like these can make it difficult to understand or care about the impact that we can have with our everyday decisions. 

Despite this, some lifestyle choices we make can vastly affect our emissions and therefore our impact on the climate. 

Among the most cost-effective measures a person can take to reduce their carbon footprint are flying less and eating less meat.

And if the thought of not jetting off for a summer holiday fills you with dread, the impact of climate change is being felt elsewhere across the globe.

While the weather in the UK this summer may not have been as dramatic as the wildfires burning out of control in Greece, it is a symptom of the same thing.

Like most things the earlier treatment for the problem is started, the better. 

This summer could be the last chance to take drastic action and protect the world as we know it.

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