The summer of 2022 shows that the climate crisis is already well established

11/10/22

Extreme weather events have occurred in Europe and around the world during the last months. But what does this have to do with the climate crisis, and what can be done about it?   

  • Droughts and forest fires  

As of August 26, 2022, 62,023 hectares of vegetation had already burned in France - over 660,000 hectares burned in Europe. Numerous forest fires broke out this summer, with hot, dry weather intensified by heat waves. The damage is irreparable, with fires releasing nearly one million tons of CO2 between June and August, according to the latest estimates from the European Union's Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Program (CAMS). The impacts of climate change on wildfires are numerous. Summer droughts in Europe are more severe today than at any time in the past two millennia, according to a study conducted by the University of Cambridge. The Loire River, the longest river in France, reached water levels so low that it was possible to walk across it in some places. Rising air temperatures not only promote drought conditions, but also intensify them. NASA estimates that the probability of mega-droughts, which last 10 years or more, will increase from 12% to 60% beyond 2050. 

  • Heavy rains and flooding 

This summer, torrential rains have fallen all over the world. Recently, in Sennigallia, Italy, 400 millimeters of water fell in the space of two or three hours, causing major flooding, unfortunately fatal. This quantity of rain normally falls in seven months in the area. A study published in Nature Communications reveals that human activities, and in particular greenhouse gas emissions, have played a key factor in the phenomenon. Rainfall events are increasing as the pressure of human activity on the environment increases.    

"Heat waves in Europe, colossal floods in Pakistan... There is nothing natural about these recent disasters," according to Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations. This summer, all around the world, rains have caused severe flooding. In unpredictable places like the UK, Germany, Belgium, India or China, communities and buildings have been destroyed. More recently, Pakistan experienced a real nightmare with unstoppable floods, causing the death of almost 1500 people and affecting 33 million people.  

What quick and effective solutions exist to limit climate change ? 

This should push governments to take action, because solutions exist, in all sectors. According to the IPCC, the priority is to get out of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) and to consume less energy and resources, led by the public authorities of countries around the world. National mitigation commitments should be four times higher to be able to limit warming to 2°C and seven times higher to reach 1.5°C. The European Union member states alone are responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, so we must act now. Find out more about the IPCC recommendations here.  

Cities also have an important role to play in addressing climate change by implementing inclusive, urgent, and enhanced mitigation measures, increasing the adaptive capacity of residents. For example, warning systems, such as multi-hazard early warning systems (MHEWS), are effective adaptation measures that save lives and reduce loss and damage.

The three ways Surfrider Foundation Europe acts on climate issues  

Surfrider Foundation Europe has three main objectives to act on climate change, to make the behavior of individuals evolve and guarantee the reduction of the impact of global production and consumption of the environment:

  1. Participate in the implementation of the European Union climate and energy package;
  2. Provide scientific data and expertise on the effects of climate change on the ocean and coasts in order to better understand them and propose models to facilitate decision-making;
  3. Spread information by broadcasting knowledge and raise awareness of the general public and decision-makers on the challenges and the impact of climate change through advocacy programmes. Surfrider has also been working since 2015 on education programs that help people understand the importance of the ocean in the climate machine and the need to protect it. This also helps to highlight the impact of climate change, and particularly rising sea levels on the coasts and the related risks.

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