Friday, July 11, 2008

Spain's climate stress For a long while it looked odds-on that a big international conference in Barcelona this autumn about the environment would find the Spanish host city deep in the grip of a water crisis triggered by its worst drought in 50 years.

The irony would not have been lost on the thousands of scientists, government officials and activists due to attend the World Conservation Congress, the four-yearly conference of the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s largest and oldest environmental network.

Global threats posed by the accelerating pace of climate change are a core theme of the October 5-14 congress, which will discuss a “new climate for change." For Spain, water shortages rank high amongst the potential problems of a warming world. A recent government report warned that water resources could shrink 22 percent by the end of the century.

In the end, unusually heavy rains in May, the third wettest in the last 60 years, and which continued in early June, saved the day for the Catalonian city and reservoir levels in the region recovered to over 50 percent of their capacity after having fallen to below 20 percent.

…Like much of southern Europe, Spain is particularly vulnerable to the impact of rising global temperatures, which scientists see bringing more extreme weather conditions, such as heat waves and cyclones, to many parts of the world, along with more frequent droughts and flooding. Sea levels are expected to rise, in the Mediterranean as elsewhere, as ice caps and glaciers melt….

Congreso de los Disputados, shot by Epaminondas Pantulis from Alcorcón, Spain, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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