Europe will be devastated by climate change, the European Union predicts today. The ecosystems that have underpinned societies from Ancient Greece and Rome to present-day Britain and France, will be disabled by remorselessly rising temperatures, EU scientists forecast in a remarkable report which, the Independent calls “as ominous as it is detailed”.
Much of the continent’s age-old fertility, which gave the world the vine and the olive and now produces mountains of grain and dairy products, will not survive the climate change forecast for the coming century, the scientists say, and its wildlife will be devastated.
Europe’s modern lifestyles, from summer package tours to winter skiing trips, will disappear as the Mediterranean becomes too hot for holidays and snow and ice disappear from mountain ranges such as the Alps – with enormous economic consequences. The social consequences will also be felt as heat-related deaths rise and extreme weather events, such as storms and floods, become more violent.
“The annual migration of northern Europeans to the countries of the Mediterranean in search of the traditional summer ‘sun, sand and sea’ holiday is the single largest flow of tourists across the globe, accounting for one-sixth of all tourist trips in 2000. This large group of tourists, totalling about 100 million per annum, spends an estimated €100bn (£67bn) per year. Any climate-induced change in these flows of tourists and money would have very large implications for the destinations involved.”
The European Commission wants to hold back the rise in global temperatures to 2C above the pre-industrial level (at present, the level is 0.6C). The Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, gave US President George Bush a preview of the new policy during a visit to the White House this week.
Knowing Bush he probably threw it in the bin.