New research firms up links between climate change and extreme weather, and also tells us which countries are most at risk.
By Bob Berwyn
Jan 27, 2017
Even as United States President Donald Trump continues to make worrisome moves on climate policy in his first week in office, the rest of the world continues to treat the issue as deadly serious. This week, the European Environment Agency released its latest report, which clearly spells out the threat of rising sea levels and more extreme weather, such as more frequent and more intense heatwaves, flooding, droughts, and storms due to climate change.
The report — updated every four years — says more flexible adaptation strategies are crucial to mitigating these effects. Climate-related extreme events in EEA member countries have accounted for more than 400 billion euros in economic losses since 1980, according to the report.
One of the important new findings in the report is that there was no global warming pause between 1998 and 2012, as had been suggested by some temperature record evaluations later shown to be flawed.
“There was talk of hiatus. Now we have three years in a row breaking temperature records, and nobody is talking about a pause, so we see more clearly the need to prepare for the impacts,” says Hans-Martin Füssel, an expert on vulnerability and adaptation at the EEA. “There is climate change, it’s occurring more rapidly than one had assumed, and there’s an increased urgency for policies to address that.”
“There is also better understanding of the connection between climate change and extreme events,” Füssel adds, referring to the expanding field of attribution studies that show how global warming is making particular extreme weather events more common. “We now have more data showing clearly that heavy precipitation events have increased in the last few decades. We have a better understanding that global warming is driving extreme events.”