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In the last few decades, people around Europe have experienced many changes in their environment, mainly political and technological. We have been focused on pushing boundaries, but it is only recently that we have started to focus our attention on what is actually supporting our evolution: nature.
It is now evident that our activities have affected our surroundings, as human kind expanded its living area and explored new technologies. Even though it is slowly, but continuously changing, there are some alterations ai??i?? both natural or man-made – that affect our day-to-day activities.
This can be seen by some recent extreme weather in Europe and elsewhere. Against these kind of unusual weather events, people are only now starting to looking for solutions and developing environmental friendly policies.
Heatwaves and Droughts
One can see the effect of climate change all around Europe and on our society. Heatwaves and droughts are already making themselves felt in Southern Europe. Happening every year in the last decade, heatwaves are increasing in length, causing thousands of deaths and severe drought periods.
According to research conducted by the UK Met Office, in the beginning of the 21st century, the probability of having an extremely hot summer has increased from once every 50 year to once every five years. As proof we can look at the heatwaves of 2003, 2006 and 2015.
In 2003, countries from Central and Western Europe registered their hottest temperatures, and around 70,000 people died as a result of this phenomenon. Energy consumption has also risen, due to the usage of cooling systems.Ai?? Agriculture has also been affected by increasing temperatures. Crops are now more likely to be destroyed if proper irrigation systems are missing.
Lately, scientific research indicates that climate change is the cause for the powerful storms hitting Europe. These storms are likely to last longer, with more winds and be of higher intensity.
The storms are happening due to the higher ocean temperatures resulting from the general global warming. They are getting energy from warm water, that can be found nowadays in the seas and the ocean surrounding Europe. It is becoming more and more common to feel winds around Europe with a speed of over 100 km/h, damaging the coast of Britain, the Netherlands and Germany.
After every extreme weather phenomenon, the statistics count tens of deaths and damages of millions euros.
Investigations by institutes,Ai?? such as the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, lead to the conclusion that human activity was a cause of a more profound and rapid change.
During the last decade experts have measured the warmest record in Europe, with a temperature increase of 1.3 degrees compared to the pre-industrial average. This is leading to a warmer and dryer Southern Europe and a Northern Europe with more precipitation, and more floods.
It has been recorded that birds in Lithuania deceived by the milder winters, didnai??i??t head south and died when the real cold hit the country. Also, trees have started to bloom during winter time, thus increasing the possibility of destroying crops once the temperatures went back to their normal values.
The threats due to climate change have been acknowledged by many European countries. Countries which produce 10% of the total gas emission, one cause of the changes, have created programmes aimed to reduce emissions and increase the usage of renewable energy.
Some of the member countries have prepared National Climate Change Adaptation Strategies, in order to better anticipate the effects of climate change. Last but not least, in April 2013, the European Commission published a key proposal for an EU adaptation strategy, through which they promote action by member states, and better informed decision making.
Climate change is happening and we can see the effects around us, in each and every season. Countering the effects is a long painstaking process, but through climate adaptation strategies we can decrease the impact upon our society.
Header image: Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard Arctic (Creative Commons)