quinta-feira, 22 de abril de 2010

Portugal among the countries most affected by global warming

Portugal, Spain and France are among the European countries most affected by global warming, according to a British report released today, indicates that consequences such as water shortages, heat waves and forest fires. The Stern report, commissioned by the British Government to the former head of the World Bank Nicholas Stern, highlights the major climatic changes in Europe, stressing that the regions will be affected differently. "The Mediterranean will see an increase of the stress drought, heat waves and forest fires. Portugal, Spain and Italy are the countries most affected. This could lead to a move to North with regard to summer tourism, agriculture and ecosystems, "says the document. Northern Europe may register an increase in agricultural productivity (with an adjustment to the temperature rise) and less need to expend energy in winter.

Rising water threatens Holland
The melting of Alpine snows and more extreme precipitation patterns may increase the frequency of floods in major river basins like the Danube, Rhine and Rhone. The winter tourism will be affected. The study also states that many coastal countries across Europe are vulnerable to rising sea level. The Netherlands, where 70 percent of the population would be threatened with a one meter rise in sea level, is the country that is most at risk. The report notes that developed countries at lower latitudes (case of Portugal) are most vulnerable.

Water shortages and heat waves in southern Europe
Regions where water is already scarce face great difficulties and rising costs. Recent studies suggest that an increase of two degrees in global temperatures could lead to a reduction of 20 percent in water availability. The scarcity of water in this region will limit the carbon fertilization effect and lead to substantial losses in agriculture. The costs of extreme events such as storms, floods, droughts and heat waves will increase rapidly with higher temperatures, neutralizing some of the initial benefits associated with climate change. Only the costs of these phenomena could reach 0.5 to one percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by mid-century and will continue to increase as the world warms. Heat waves, like what happened in Europe in 2003, killing 35 thousand people and losses of 11.7 billion euros in agriculture, are common in mid-century. The North-South disparity of the impacts of climate change has already been registered during this heat wave, when the crops in southern Europe had a decrease of 25 per cent, while in Northern Europe there was the opposite (increase of 25 percent Ireland and 5 percent in Scandinavia). In the lower latitudes, it is expected an overall increase in energy consumption due to higher demand for air conditioning in summer.

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