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Heating up the Eurozone

Dan Farber, professor of law | November 27, 2012

The European Union has issued a new report about climate impacts. The picture is mixed, with some good news (warmer winters in the Northern and Eastern Europe) but bad news in other respects. The report has this to say about some disaster risks:

Increases in health risks associated with river and coastal flooding are projected in many regions of Europe due to projected increases in extreme precipitation events and sea level.

Length, frequency, and intensity of heat-waves are very likely to increase in the future. This increase can lead to a substantial increase in mortality over the next decades, especially in vulnerable groups, unless adaptation measures are taken.

As an example of one of the effects of climate change, this map shows projected decreases in water availability:

Europe water map

Water availability

There are similar maps showing how the climate has changed in Europe over the past fifty years and how it is likely to change going forward unless emissions are sharply reduced.There is a depressing sameness to forecasts of climate change.  They all feature more extreme events such as flooding, heat waves, and wildfires.  The risk is that, like the warnings on cigarette packs, the repetition will become numbing.  But in both cases, the reason that the warnings stay the same is that the risks remain the same.  The question is whether people will heed these warnings.

Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet.