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Climate change comes home to Europe

Those of us lucky enough to live in the developed economies of Western Europe have been fortunate enough to avoid the worst effects of climate change despite being largely responsible for it… until now.  But a new study in the journal Climatic Change has found that this is about to change.

The study found that the frequency of climate change related events such as storms, floods, heatwaves and droughts will increase throughout the twenty-first century.  Many one in a hundred year events will become thirty year events, while some storm and flood events – including those related to rising sea levels – will occur more than once a year.

The study makes for grim reading for the UK, which is identified as being at risk of combined threats:

“More exposed regions include the British Isles, the North Sea area, north-western parts of the Iberian Peninsula, as well as parts of France, the Alps, Northern Italy and Balkan countries along the Danube River. These areas, even if they may present lower overall climate exposure compared to other regions in Europe, will be prone to the largest changes in multi-hazard exposures that could potentially results in larger risks.”

It is likely that the storms and floods that Britain experienced last winter and in the winter of 2013 are going to become normal winter weather in future.  Moreover, inland areas on floodplains – such as much of central London – are likely to experience major flooding in the near future.  Perhaps when the debating chamber of the House of commons is under water, Britain’s political elite will finally wake up to the urgency of addressing climate change.

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