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Droughts, downpours and degradation: the European impacts of climate change - 09 November

UK flood

As rates of global warming continue at alarming rates, the effects of climate change are becoming more and more visible throughout Europe. Rising temperatures and severe weather phenomena will affect European farmers immensely, with crops such as olive groves and vineyards taking decades to reach full maturity. Alongside agriculture, tourism is set to be affected by the growing threat of climate change, as higher average temperatures of 2-3°C by the end of the century will reduce the duration of snow on the ground by 20%, and raise the snow line by 500m. This forecast directly implicates The Alps, prompting many resorts to use artificial snow to combat the effects of climate change on their businesses.

Here in the UK, flooding poses the greatest threat from climate change. The winter of 2013-14 was the wettest on record, with the end of February witnessing floods to 7800 homes and 3000 businesses. With 1500 homes being built annually on areas of high flood risk, it is imperative that the UN COP21 succeeds in curtailing climate change to a two degree scenario to prevent the danger of flooding spreading to more homes.

Degradation threatens German forests which are struggling to cope with drought and storms. Rising temperatures have increased the threat of forest fires and increased the potential of new pests to thrive. At our coasts, rising temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea threaten traditional fish populations and certain types of coral. Now, tropical fish species, algae and jellyfish have moved into European waters and have altered the balance of the ecosystem, with such instabilities causing concern for many, including traditional fishing industries.

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