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Won't certain regions of the world be spared by climate change ?

september 2003

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It is conform to human nature - even if it is not very altruistic ! - to wonder whether the problem will not be only for the neighbour.

Nothing is less certain as far as we are concerned :

it is rigorously impossible to know in advance if there will be a sanctuary somewhere, because models are not fitted to establish local predictions of the future climate. It's the half empty or half full glass : one can either consider that this incertainty does not guarantee the worst, or on the contrary consider that it does not guarantee we will "pass through" without damages. It all depends !

Regarding Europe no identified risk can be excluded : we are neither out of reach of a move northwards of tropical diseases, nor of vanishing of half our forests, nor of a halt of the Gulf Stream, nor of the foolish acts that might result from any of the previous events,

There is no reason why Europe should be spared by an increase of extreme phenomena, and some recent events might be just a foretaste of what awaits us later. And if hurricanes had the bad idea of blowing a little stronger, a little more often, and in october rather than in december, when deciduous trees have all their leaves, we can imagine we won't be very pleased...

There is even a risk which is specific to Europe (or more exactely to the whole Northern Atlantic, including Canada and the eastern US), that is a slowing down or a vanishing of the Gulf Stream, what would generate a massive (5 to 6 degrees) and brutal (happening in a couple decades) lowering of the average temperature over all Western Europe and the eastern coast of Northern America. Such a phenomenum would most probably be a catastropha for ecosystems in general and agriculture in particular.

It is therefore not resonnable to think that we Europeans will not be concerned by climate change, even if the press willingly - but wrongly in my opinion - indicates that the countries that are the most susceptible to be harmed are developping countries. It is a fact that "violent" climatic episodes are mostly concentrated on these countries today, and it is also a fact that these countries have the least means of adaptation to a given change, but concluding from there that everybody else is not at risk would be a (very) bold move !


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