The climate crisis often seems like a distant threat – melting polar ice caps or something that future generations will need to find a solution to.
While the British weather has always been changeable, events previously considered rare or unprecedented are now becoming more common and more extreme due to global warming.
In the past 12 months the UK has faced severe floods, extreme temperatures, increased coastal erosion and wildfires on moors.
Northern Ireland has just had its third warmest summer and also its hottest temperature – 31.3C on July 21 in Castlederg, Co Tyrone.
Some regions of Scotland including Glasgow, where the COP26 climate summit will be held in November, had their hottest summer since 1884.
CLICK HERE TO READ OUR INTERACTIVE FEATURE ON VANISHING UK
Adam Gerrard / Daily Mirror)
The UK is already getting extreme weather, with 2020 the third warmest, fifth wettest and eighth sunniest year on record.
It's the first year to fall into the top 10 for all three variables.
The State Of The UK Climate 2020 report revealed the average winter temperature for last year was 5.3C – which is 1.6C higher than the 1981 to 2010 average.
In early August 2020 there were highs of 34C on six consecutive days with five "tropical nights" of at least 20C, making it one of the most significant heatwaves to hit southern England in 60 years.
Adam Gerrard / Daily Mirror)
Together, these changes are affecting our seasons, wildlife, coastlines, countryside and also some of the most treasured and special places around the UK.
The Mirror has joined forces with Friends of the Earth to draw up a list of 21 cherished spots that are at risk of being severely damaged and changed for ever by climate change.
These include major tourist attractions the Giant's Causeway and the White Cliffs of Dover.
Important wildlife sites such as the puffin colony on Sumburgh Head on mainland Shetland and seals at Blakeney Point in Norfolk are in danger as well.
The devastating impact of coastal erosion, rising sea levels and warming temperatures also poses a huge threat to everyday places such as pubs, churches, sports grounds and beaches.
Mike Childs, head of science at Friends of the Earth, said: "Melting ice caps and soaring temperatures are often what we think of when talking about climate breakdown.
"But not enough thought is given to how it will change the places we love and visit. It's not just these much-loved landmarks alone that are threatened by climate chaos.
"We also risk losing the rich cultural heritage and social good they bring too.
"We can't stop climate change but we can limit how badly it harms the planet.
"If protecting the places we love really is a top priority, then the Government must do everything it can to drive down climate-wrecking emissions at speed."
The castle of St Michael's Mount off the coast of Cornwall, the white cliffs of Birling Gap in East Sussex and the dunes of Formby, near Liverpool, are also among the places at risk.
The Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, is threatened by rising seas and erosion.
A report by Queen's University and Ulster University warned part of the Middle and Little Causeway could be under water for much of the winter by the end of the century.
The Grand Causeway could also suffer serious erosion by 2080 and new approach routes for visitors will probably have to be built.
Another risk area identified is the Lake District National Park.
It already suffers major footpath erosion due to heavy rainfall in winter and an increase in visitors.
Studies said rising temperatures will lead to species loss, falling lake levels in summer and will dry out the peat, releasing carbon into the atmosphere.
Woodlands will suffer more storm damage and trees could suffer from summer drought.
Changing how we talk about the weather
From today, the Mirror is changing the name of the weather section to "Weather & Climate".
The new title reflects the impact the climate crisis is having.
Global warming not only means hotter temperatures but also more extreme meteorological events.
Each day we will record the impact of climate change by comparing current temperatures to those of previous decades. And we will carry regular fact boxes shedding light on extreme weather, new records and other trends.
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Mirror editor Alison Phillips said: "Every year we take the chance to focus our energy on a big climate change special edition, which often looks to the future.
"But the climate crisis is here now, in big and small ways, and it's our job to tell that story every
"Over the pandemic the media has helped to give the world a crash course in virology. Protecting ourselves from the climate crisis will call for one in climate science.
"We all know how Brits love to talk about the weather. Now, unfortunately, climate change is a part of that conversation."
‘Campaign is vital to preserve our landscapes’
– Comment, by Harry Bowell, National Trust Director of Land and Nature
World leaders will soon meet in Glasgow at COP26 to draw up a plan on what we can do to help in the fight.
This crisis is not something merely affecting the outdoor places we care for. It is too easy to think solely about coastal erosion, floods or drought.
This is why campaigns like the Daily Mirror's Vanishing UK are so important – both to highlight the threat climate change poses, and to show what we as organisations, individuals and society as a whole can do to play our part.
We are doing all we can to protect and preserve these historic landscapes.
How to claim your free seed starter kits
The Mirror has joined forces with community television channel Together TV to hand out 50,000 packets of free basil seeds to readers.
The seed starter kits are being given away as part of a new Green Challenge to encourage more people to start growing more of their own food.
Along with your packet of basil you will receive tips on how to look after the plants and exclusive recipes using the herb from celebrity chef Rustie Lee.
Bake Off winner and presenter Nadiya Hussain and TV gardener Danny Clarke are also backing the Green Challenge.
Nadiya told the Mirror: “There is so much joy you can get from cooking, it’s good for the soul. The power it has to bring your family, friends, neighbours and community together to connect and share the delicious food you’ve made is the best.”
How to apply for your free seeds:
- Visit www.TogetherTV.com/GreenChallenge and fill out the online form
- By SMS: Text "Together" to 80800 for free followed by your full name
- Sending your full name, post address and phone number via letter to –
Together TV’s Green Challenge 24 Neal Street
London WC2H 9QW
But in years to come, the charity faces some very difficult decisions around how we manage them, especially some of the coastal locations in our care.
The past 12 months have thrown into sharp focus the relationship that we desperately need to nurture our natural environment.
The next few months will go a long way in defining what this looks like –and how far we are willing to invest to protect against the future climate change threat.
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