Over the weekend we reported another heatwave gripping Greece and much of Europe. But the overall picture for of extreme dry contrasted by deadly torrential rain is cause for alarm according to many scientists. As for the Mediterranean weather forecast, this subregion is key to understanding the wider global warming trend.
Much of Europe Flooded
The news over the weekend told of Austria, France, Italy , Poland, and Spain, being pummelled by extreme flooding, strong winds, and deadly tornadoes. In Italy three were reported killed by tornadoes including a 27-year-old woman who died when her car was swept up in a tornado.
In Bergen, Norway, Europe’s wettest city, the all-time temperature record of 32.2 C (90 F) was shattered when the heatwave ran up the thermometer to 33.4 C (92 F). Even temperatures close to the Arctic Circle climbed to at least 31 C (88 F) on Friday in Gallivare, Sweden. The heatwave is unprecedented, and Paris even surpassed its hottest temperature ever recorded when the thermometer his 43 degrees Celsius (110° Fahrenheit) the other day.
The Greece Cookoff
In Greece, temperatures reached 42 C ( 107.6 F) over the weekend, but the current temperature in Athens is down to 37 C or 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Much of Europe is under one kind of weather warning or alert or another, especially parts of Germany and Poland where thunderstorms and flooding are a danger. Here on Crete, as is the case for much of Greece, there is a heat alert in effect from noon until 4 PM.
As impactful as these acute weather signs are, the science of climate change is now being experienced by huge segments of the population. This report on Forbes warns of impacts on the food chain already being experienced as farmers are forced to irrigate crops with massive water resources.
As bad as the Forbes report makes things appear, a story via Greek Reporter tells of Professor Michael Petrakis explaining why the latest European heatwaves are something that should make everyone worry. According to the professor:
”There are studies, which suggest that Greece’s climate will look like Libya’s and Britain’s climate will be similar to that of Marrakesh in Morocco.”
Petrakis is not alone in his concerns since 99% of all climatologists now agree that humans contribute significantly to the trend. In the last report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPPC, 2013) scientists marked the Mediterranean as one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impacts of global warming. By some estimates, the Mediterranean basin may lose almost 30% of its rainfall and mean temperatures may increase by as much as 5 degrees Celcius before 2080. For my American countrymen, 5 degrees C is 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Problem “Is” Real
Envisioning London like Marrakesh and Athens like Benghazi may not be too stressful for some out there, but for people who live in these places, the continued global warming trend will be catastrophic. People are just not prepared to become desert nomads where I come from. And if the Mediterranean heats up, the rest of Earth is surely not far behind. For those skeptical, this report tells of Pacific salmon being pushed to the brink of extinction by global warming. From Southern Africa to Antarctica the global warming trend is already having a devastating effect.
Finally, a recent groundbreaking study reported by Nature and laid out by Neukom et al. provides strong evidence that over the past 2,000 years, “anthropogenic global warming is unparalleled in terms of absolute temperatures” and “unprecedented in spatial consistency”.
For me, the burning question is not “if” humans contribute to global warming, but “when” will those hard-line naysayers finally be convinced? Maybe the better question is “When will the public care enough to start demanding we do something about it?”