Monday, April 29, 2013

Adapt faster to changing climate, Europe warned

Fiona Harvey in the Guardian: Cities around Europe may have to erect flood barriers similar to the Thames Barrier that protects London from sea surges, as climate change takes hold and leads to the danger of much more destructive storms, floods, heavy rainfall and higher sea levels, Europe's environmental watchdog has warned.

The effects of climate change will be so far-reaching across the continent that vineyards may have to plant new grape varieties, farmers may have to cultivate new crops and water suppliers look to technology such as desalination in order to cope with the probable effects of more extreme weather. Buildings and infrastructure such as transport, energy and communication networks will also have to be changed.

The warnings come in a report from the European Environment Agency, called Adaptation in Europe. The research found that half of the 32 member countries of the EEA still lack plans to adapt to the effects of global warming, although others have begun to take action.

Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA, said: "Adaptation is about new ways of thinking and dealing with risks and hazards, uncertainty and complexity. It will require Europeans to co-operate, to learn from each other and to invest in the long-term transformations needed to sustain our wellbeing in the face of climate change."

The EEA has found that the effects of climate change are already being felt across Europe, and more is in store. Even if current efforts to cut global greenhouse gas emissions are successful, there are likely to be further impacts from a changing climate, including more frequent "extreme weather events" such as fiercer storms, heatwaves and periods of heavy rainfall. Average temperatures across Europe have risen, and there is now less rainfall in southern Europe, where much of Europe's agriculture is focused, and more rainfall in northern Europe, where it gives rise to floods...

Flood Defences No 8 and 9, Thames Barrier London, shot by Christine Matthews, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license


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