Extremes of heat and rainfall are likely to make natural disasters commonplace in the future. Photograph: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
1 Stay cool, dry
Britain is expected to get more extremes of heat and rainfall, so prepare for more severe floods, longer droughts and more powerful storms. No one knows quite what the effect over time will be of a slowing Gulf stream, or the melting of arctic sea ice, but climate scientists confidently expect temperatures to rise up to 4C by 2100. That could mean big shifts in rainfall patterns and a more unpredictable climate. So clear your drains, fix your roof and move to Wales – or at least to somewhere with good water supply. The worst that could happen? Your grandchildren will inherit inexorably rising temperatures that render much of the Earth uninhabitable. Their problem? Yes, but yours, too.
Sea levels are rising gradually and by the end of the century could be nearly 2ft higher than they are today. So don’t pass on that beach hut to your children, and expect to lose acres if you live near the coast in East Anglia and other low lying areas. You won’t have to head for the hills for many years, but prepare to view the seaside from behind higher walls and from the dykes that will be needed to protect many coastal towns. By 2100 the map of Britain will be smaller and many cities are likely to be besieged by climate “refugees” arriving from low-lying areas such as Norfolk.
Climate change is going to be very, very expensive, and the poor, the old and the vulnerable will be the most affected because they are least likely to have the money to move house or adapt. Economists such as Lord Stern and Jim Yong Kim, the new president of the World Bank, expect a 4C temperature rise to result in global economic meltdown – unless countries rapidly shift their economies towards less energy-intensive industries. Stern predicts that warming will knock at least 5% off GDP per year and Kim expects food shortages and conflicts over natural resources and water. Abnormal events such as Hurricane Sandy, which cost $65bn (£40bn) and the 2011-12 US drought, which cost $35bn (£21bn) may be just foretasters of the price to be paid. On the other hand, there’s serious money to be made adapting cities and industries to climate change and reducing emissions.