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As climate change takes hold and leads to the danger of much more destructive storms, floods, heavy rainfall and higher sea levels, cities around Europe may have to erect flood barriers similar to the Thames Barrier that protects London from sea surges. This is according to Europe’s environmental watchdog, who says that major environmental wellness changes will have to be made in order to cope with the probable effects of more extreme weather.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) have released a report called Adaptation in Europe, which notes that, in order to cope with extreme weather conditions, vineyards may have to plant new grape varieties, farmers may have to cultivate new crops, water suppliers look to technology such as desalination and transport, energy and communication networks will also have to be changed. The EEA’s research shows that half of the 32 member countries are yet to take action to guard their wellbeing against the effects of global warming.
According to Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA, ‘Adaptation is about new ways of thinking and dealing with risks and hazards, uncertainty and complexity. It will require Europeans to co-operate, to learn from each other and to invest in the long-term transformations needed to sustain our wellbeing in the face of climate change.’ The EEA believes that even if we succeed in cutting global greenhouse gas emissions, it is likely that we’ll be further impacted by a changing climate, with more frequent “extreme weather events”, for example, such as fiercer storms, heat waves and periods of heavy rainfall.
The report has coded the different measures needed to adapt to climate change. “Grey” measures refer to technological and engineering projects such as river or sea flooding barriers, “green” projects are based on adapting natural ecosystems, with changes to farming methods and crops, for example, and “soft” measures are categorised as policy changes. There is now less rainfall in southern Europe, where much of our agriculture is focused, and more rainfall in northern Europe, where it gives rise to floods. Many of these EEA projects may incur costs upfront, but all are necessary if we are going to adapt to the imminent changes, and will save money in the long-run.