Britain from 2060: The Land

According to the latest predictions on global warming Britain from the 2060s could begin to look rather like Madeira. In the first of a two-part investigation into the impact of climate change Tom Heap visits the island 350 miles from the coast of Morocco to find out how we might be living in the second half of the 21st century.

With a climate dominated by the Atlantic, a wet, mountainous north and a warm, dry, over-populated south Madeira already resembles Britain in miniature. The settlers who arrived from Portugal in the 15th century developed a complex farming system that found a niche for dozens of crops, from olives and oranges to wheat and sweet potatoes. Could British farmers prepare for a less predictable climate by studying the delicate agricultural arts of the Madeirans?

Irrigation systems bring water from the wet north of Madeira to the parched south where 90 percent of the population live and most of the tourists visit. Should Britain accept the inevitable and invest in the water pipes that could keep the South-East of England hydrated with Scottish and Northumbrian water?

Tom will also be studying the island’s wildlife. Can Britain expect semi-tropical insects and reptiles to invade the south as our mountain hares and ptarmigan die out in the north? Or does Madeira’s broad range of species offer hope of something subtly different but just as fascinating from the 2060s?

Producer: Alasdair Cross.

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