Spain is heading towards a climate disaster in the 21st century


Before you start drawing the black panorama which – it is predicted – will bring climate change to Spain, let's stop at an image: that of a spider web.

The climatic phenomena and the plots they affect – which are as many as one can imagine – are connected in an immense network, so that a shake at one end spreads throughout the system generating unpredictable consequences.

In Spain, the ups and downs of this clim climatic spider web ’will bring us "more intense and more frequent extreme phenomena", explains Beatriz Hervella, spokesman for the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet), who is the one who sets this example. Behind this very specific phrase are hidden scenarios that make the hair stand on end.

The first and most obvious is the temperature rise. "In the worst pollutant emission scenario we can talk about increases in the maximum average temperature in Spain of 5ºC in 2100 or 2ºC in 2050 ", says Hervella. This is the situation we are headed for if a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is not achieved in the short term. And everything indicates that it will not be Nothing simple to achieve.

If this scenario is fulfilled, Hervella continues, in the summer of 2050 that rise could be 5 degrees. "In Badajoz, once a year you can get to have 43 ° C. With these predictions we could reach extremes of 50ºC in 2050 ", says the spokeswoman.

Map main threats climate change Spain
Map of the most prominent threats facing the Peninsula.
Carlos Gámez

As a result of advancing from record to record for maximum temperature, by mid-century we could face heat waves five days longer on average, they could reach 25 days in 2100. Maybe 2100 may seem like a very distant horizon, but considering that life expectancy in our country is almost 83 years, the generation that will live to see that scenario has already begun to be born.

Another of the planned threats is the increase in the duration of the dry period, which, according to Hervella, will be "more pronounced the further south." "The number of rainy days is reduced. That is not only because it is going to rain less, but it seems that the tendency will be to accumulate more water in less days", says Hervella. This could translate into" greater torrentiality. "

"We are going to warmer and drier summers: a bad combination", José Manuel Moreno, a member of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC), summarizes the 21st century auríspices in terms of the subject.

"The countries that are in these latitudes are warming up a little more than the global average, from the order of half a degree to one more degree," he says.

From heaven to earth: the consequences

These movements in ‘the climatic spider web’ are felt throughout the network, but to detail each and every one of the consequences they might have, thousands of pages would be needed.

In a very short way, the potential problems range from sea ​​level rise – with all that entails – until increases in summer mortalitygoing through it desert advance, until the disappearance of millenary ecosystems.

We could continue to talk that the difficulties will be increasing in access to water in vulnerable areas by worst droughts, or that some invasive species from different climatic regions they will feel more and more at ease and will eventually move to other locations.

The whole country faces significant economic losses for the declines in crop yields, which will be more pronounced in rural areas and emptied Spain, more dependent on agriculture.

More fires and more virulent, decreases in the productivity of renewable energies, brakes on tourism or even the arrival of clim climate refugees ’from other countries are just some of the many challenges for which Spain must adapt.

All of these potential threats – some not so much – are based on scientific publications that place us systematically in the group of so-called ‘losers of climate change’.

According to an exhaustive report of the European Environment Agency, lto the Mediterranean region, and especially the Iberian PeninsulaThey are the areas of the EU that will suffer the most multisectoral losses if the pace at which the planet is currently heating up is not slowed down. In almost all the indicators that this document reviews – maximum temperatures, rainfall, droughts, fires, crop yields … – Spain is losing.

Evolution of the average temperature of Spain (1900-2018). The blue bars are abnormally cold years and the abnormally warm red bars.
The 'bar code' of climate change: From left to right, average temperature of Spain (1900-2018). The red bars are warm years than normal and the blue ones colder.

Adapt or die

"We still have time to mitigate consequences. If we reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and manage to not exceed that limit of two degrees in 2100 we could stay in relatively complicated but manageable scenarios, "explains Hervellas.

"The urgency is extreme," warns Moreno. "A country just like Spain is not going to change the world. It has to do it with the EU and be a more committed actor. Spain is interested in changing the economic model and not relying on energies that we don't have"says Moreno.

The two scientists agree: there is no choice but to comply with the Paris Agreement and reduce emissions "already and much." Hervellas talks about the need for "reduce emissions by 2030 by half or even do so by 2050".

In fact, even in the most optimistic scenario of emission reduction, the earth will continue to heat up due to the effect of the gas already emitted. The key is to slow the fastd to the one who is doing it.

"The great challenge is to ask ourselves if we will be able to adapt to all these changes and the implications that they entail or we will only be a kind of step on Earth," concludes Hervellas.

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