Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

British Chips Now One Inch Shorter Due to Climate Change

Climate
British Chips Now One Inch Shorter Due to Climate Change
Chips like these are an inch shorter after the 2018 UK heat wave. Szakaly / iStock / Getty Images Plus

One of Britain's favorite snacks is now an inch shorter, and climate change is to blame.

That's because the UK's 2018 summer heat wave, which the Met Office said was made 30 times more likely by climate change, led to a harvest of smaller potatoes. Smaller potatoes also means shorter chips, one of the UK's most beloved pub foods.


The finding is one of many recounted in Recipe for Disaster, a new report from the Climate Coalition that looks at the impact of climate change on Britain's fruits and vegetables. In addition to the 2018 heat wave, growers were also impacted by snow and freezing temperatures earlier in the year.

"This year made it seem like an impossible job," co-founder of vegetable growing and delivery service The Natural Veg Men Matt Smee said in the report. "It's really hard work growing fruit and vegetables, but erratic and extreme weather pushes you over the edge. I'd be devastated if I had to deal with this year again."

The report found that more than half of UK farms had been impacted by flooding, storms or other extreme weather events in the past 10 years. Weather events in the past two years have taken a toll on a variety of crops, the report found.

  • Late frosts in 2017 cost apple growers 25 percent of their crop.
  • Heat reduced carrot harvests 25-30 percent in 2018.
  • Heat also reduced onion harvests by 40 percent in 2018.
  • Potato yields fell 20 percent in 2018 in England and Wales, the fourth smallest harvest since 1960.
  • Bad weather in Spain and Italy led to shortages of zucchini, spinach and lettuce in UK supermarkets in early 2017.

The report had even more dire warnings for the future of the UK's potato crop. Currently, 80 percent of the country's potatoes are grown within its borders, but climate change could make 75 percent of the land they are now grown on unfavorable to the tuber by 2050.

"It should be unthinkable to us that the humble spud could become a delicacy," Gareth Redmond-King of the World Wildlife Fund, which is part of the Climate Coalition, said, as The Guardian reported. "But the unthinkable becomes reality if climate change isn't tackled."

However, the report said there was hope, as farmers, retailers and the UK public have all expressed willingness to work to reduce emissions from agriculture and work towards more sustainable food production. For example, the National Farmers' Union pledged in January to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 at the latest.

"The challenge for everyone—and not just the food and farming sector—is to work to reduce climate emissions to help protect [what] we love for future generations," the report said.

A seagull flies in front of the Rampion offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom. Neil / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

A key part of the United States' clean energy transition has started to take shape, but you may need to squint to see it. About 2,000 wind turbines could be built far offshore, in federal waters off the Atlantic Coast, in the next 10 years. And more are expected.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Frank La Sorte and Kyle Horton

Millions of birds travel between their breeding and wintering grounds during spring and autumn migration, creating one of the greatest spectacles of the natural world. These journeys often span incredible distances. For example, the Blackpoll warbler, which weighs less than half an ounce, may travel up to 1,500 miles between its nesting grounds in Canada and its wintering grounds in the Caribbean and South America.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Kevin Maillefer / Unsplash

By Lynne Peeples

Editor's note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, "Thirsting for Solutions," here.

In late September 2020, officials in Wrangell, Alaska, warned residents who were elderly, pregnant or had health problems to avoid drinking the city's tap water — unless they could filter it on their own.

Read More Show Less
Eat Just's cell-based chicken nugget is now served at Singapore restaurant 1880. Eat Just, Inc.

At a time of impending global food scarcity, cell-based meats and seafood have been heralded as the future of food.

Read More Show Less
New Zealand sea lions are an endangered species and one of the rarest species of sea lions in the world. Art Wolfe / Photodisc / Getty Images

One city in New Zealand knows what its priorities are.

Dunedin, the second largest city on New Zealand's South Island, has closed a popular road to protect a mother sea lion and her pup, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less