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Environment 101: Climate Change Is Real & Bad News: Europe Is Drying Up

Climate change sea level nature environment Klang Malaysia

As much as many around the world are giving low priority to nature, climate change is real and it has started to cause problems to many all over the world. It is predicted that by the year 2030, the sea level is expected to increase by 4 feet and 5 feet by the year 2050. By then, a number of coastal areas like Klang marked in red are expected to be under the sea. Map source: Climate Central

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In addition to the increased sea level that will threaten coastal and low-level living areas, one is expected to see an increased temperature from climate change that prolonged draughts and generate also heavy thunderstorms. The impact of climate change is not only felt in our neighbourhood and the small islands but is also hitting developed modern European countries.

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Video caption: Unpredictable and extreme weather events have long been forecast by climate scientists as global warming sets in. DW’s correspondents have been monitoring how the effects are being felt this summer across Europe – from Spain to Greece, and in Germany.

Situation In Europe

The situation around Europe is not looking good in the last few months with cases of draughts being reported rather drastically:-

France

  • More than 100 French towns are without drinking water amid a ‘historic drought’
  • Trucks are taking water to those areas as “there is nothing left in the pipes”
  • French vineyards suffering from severe drought in some regions.
  • The heatwave that has baked the country since June has prompted trees and bushes to shed their leaves early, creating scenes that look autumnal.
  • Forecasting further increases in temperatures this week and still drier soil despite recent storms.

Italy

  • Popular tourist destinations in Italy such as Florence and Palermo are among 16 Italian cities on the “red alert” list, with temperatures topping 40°C.
  • Several municipalities have already announced water rationing, including the popular cities of Verona and Pisa.
  • Rice production in the river Po Valley is under severe threat as drought and hot weather continue to cause paddy fields to completely dry up and become salty from the use of aquifers.
  • Effects of the drought, the worst in 70 years in the country.

The Netherlands

  • Dutch minister of infrastructure and water management Mark Harbers has called on people to shower quicker and not to wash their cars or water the garden.
  • The Netherlands on Wednesday declared an official water shortage, having already imposed limits on agriculture and shipping.
  • Priority would now be given to the safety of the Dutch dyke system, followed by drinking water and energy supplies, according to the government.

Climate Change Drought Europe

Climate change does not happen overnight. The statistics from 2014 to 2017 show the occurrence of droughts in Europe and the situation does not look like it will improve in the coming years until and unless the causes of global warming, destruction of forest areas and use of environmentally friendly substances are addressed urgently. Image source: Water News Europe

Germany

  • Levels on the Rhine in Germany, one of Europe’s key waterways, have also plummeted in the hot weather.
  • Last week, authorities warned that the river was just days away from being closed to commercial traffic because of abnormally low levels of water caused by drought.

Romania

  • In Romania, water levels on the Danube have dropped so much that sand islands surfaced in the Calafat region.
  • The government plans to increase investment in irrigation projects to limit crop damage in the future.
  • The harsh drought in some parts of the country is expected to diminish Romania’s cereals crop by 30 million tonnes.
  • About 75% of Romania’s land surface is affected by various phases of drought.
  • In Vrancea County, the hardest-hit region, crops on 70% of the agricultural area are entirely damaged, according to Romania Insider.

Portugal

  • The heat worsened Portugal’s environmental troubles, with 99% of the country in severe or extreme drought.
  • 45% of the Portuguese mainland was in “extreme drought” — the highest classification — and the rest in “severe” drought, the second-highest, at the end of July.
  • National rainfall measured 3 millimetres, around 22% of the normal amount.

(Source: Euro News)

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Video caption: Parts of Europe are suffering under what may be their worst drought in centuries as record-high temperatures and long periods without rainfall have significantly impacted parts of the continent.

Government’s Outlook On Climate Change

It is clear that politicians in charge are either ignorant or just simply dumb when it comes to climate change which is hastened by reckless man-made actions such as deforestation and pollution.

Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man’s attempt to explain why Malaysia was not invited to the US-organised Climate Action Summit has courted more flak.

This was after Bernama reported Tuan Ibrahim as saying that Malaysia wasn’t invited because it’s not a country categorised as vulnerable to climate change.

“Disappointed with Tuan Ibrahim. The Southeast Asia region will be hit hard. The impacts are already felt.

“From your logic, why isn’t the Philippines invited, they were swallowed by stronger typhoons last year,” said Klima Action Malaysia, an NGO focussing on climate change issues, said on Twitter.

“Droughts, heatwaves, heavy precipitation, floods – extreme weather events have led to loss and damage in various sectors, affecting the lives and livelihood of the people of this country,” it added.

(Source: Yahoo News)

Of course, he later clarified the above statement and agreed that Malaysia will also be impacted by global climate change. However, this is an exception rather than the majority where there is no real acknowledgement that climate change is already creating havoc on the country. The great flood back in December last year is one such case of climate change where a good part of the country saw one of the heaviest rain in years.

Climate Change Malaysia Temperature

Climate change impacts all on the planet earth so to say that it will not impact is not only naive but also dumb and reckless. Image source: Climate Knowledge Portal

Climate Change Malaysia

Interestingly an article posted back in July 2022 in relation to the impact of climate change was highlighted and some of the key points stated are indeed not good news for the country. Some of the salient points included:-

Temperature up

  • Between 1970-2013, Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak experienced surface mean temperature increases of 0.14-0.25°C per decade.
  • Surface maximum temperatures increased by 0.17-0.22°C per decade during the same period, while surface minimum temperatures increased by 0.20-0.32°C per decade.

Rain and floods

  • Rainfall trends on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia between 1970 to 2010 observed a significant increase in annual rainfall, as well as during the monsoon period.
  • It also found an increase in the number of days classified as heavy rainfall (i.e. days with rainfall of more than 20 millimetres).
  • The maximum annual rainfall intensity has increased substantially, i.e. “the one-hour, three-hour and six-hour periods of rain between 2000 and 2007 have risen by 17%, 29% and 31%, respectively, compared with the period of 1970-1980”.
  • About 29,800 square kilometres of land – within which five million people reside – feel the brunt of annual floods.
  • The area affected is projected to increase due to rising sea levels – possibly reaching 0.25 to 0.5 metres higher by 2100 in Peninsular Malaysia and potentially exceeding 1.06m in Sabah.
  • The average (median) increase in the population affected by an extreme river flood (90th percentile) by 2035-2044 as a result of climate change is approximately 102,290 people.

Deforestation

  • From 2001 to 2021, Malaysia lost 29% of its tree cover, which could lead to consequences such as accelerated climate change, global warming, soil erosion and flooding.
  • From 2002 to 2021, Malaysia lost 2.77 Mha (million hectares) of humid primary forest, making up 33% of its total tree cover loss in the same time period.
  • The total area of humid primary forest in Malaysia decreased by 17% in this time period.
  • From 2001 to 2021, Malaysia lost 8.67 Mha of tree cover, equivalent to a 29% decrease in tree cover since 2000.
  • Sarawak, Sabah and Pahang had the highest tree cover loss of 3.11 Mha, 1.74 Mha and 1.19 Mha respectively, compared to the national average tree cover loss of 542 kilohectare.

Coastal areas

  • Historical sea-level rise over the period 1993–2015 at around 3.3mm per year east of Malaysia, and around 5.0mm per year west of Malaysia.
  • By 2040, potentially all of Malaysia’s mangrove zone could become submerged, and by 2060, sea-level rise might impact the country’s industrial zones.
  • Under one meter of sea-level rise, around 7,000 km square of coastal land would be at risk.
    Approximately six per cent of palm oil production and four per cent of rubber production are currently at risk from sea-level rise.

Food production

  • Climate change influences food production directly and indirectly with its effects on crop growth processes.
  • The direct effects include alterations to carbon dioxide availability, precipitation and temperatures.
  • Modelling suggests that the occurrence of droughts and floods early in the rice growing season could reduce yields by up to 60%.
  • Drought conditions may result in an inability to cultivate rubber, palm oil and cocoa

Urban heat

  • There is a relationship between heat stress and labour productivity, household consumption patterns, and living standards.
  • This is commonly anywhere in the range of 0.1-3°C in megacities.
  • UHI in the range of 4-6°C has been recorded in Kuala Lumpur, typically peaking at night time.
  • UHI contributes to haze pollution events, which have considerable economic effects.
  • One-degree increase in ambient temperature can result in an average 0.5–8.5% increase in electricity demand, with its consequential impact on climate change.

(Source: The Star / Dr Milton Lum is a past president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations and the Malaysian Medical Association)

  • Another is a climate change assessment done by the World Bank / Asian Development Bank published in August 2021 and the salient points are:-
  • Between 1970 and 2013, Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak regions experienced surface mean temperature increases of 0.14°C–0.25°C per decade.
  • Under RCP8.5, the highest emissions pathway, average temperatures are projected to increase by 3.11°C by the 2090s (0.6°C less than the global average) and 0.8°C by the 2090s under RCP2.6, the lowest emissions pathway, approximately 0.2°C less than the global average.
  • An increase in rainfall is also projected and is expected to be larger in Sabah and Sarawak than in Peninsular Malaysia, although there is generally large uncertainty around precipitation projections.
  • Malaysia is particularly vulnerable to flooding, with this natural hazard contributing more damage than any other the country experiences. The frequency and extremity of flood events have increased in recent decades with projections showing they will continue to increase with continued global warming.
  • The frequency and intensity of heat waves experienced in Malaysia is projected to increase significantly due to a warming climate.
  • Coastal adaptation and disaster risk reduction issues have risen up the national agenda in Malaysia. Vulnerability assessments identify risks to agricultural production in coastal areas from sea-level rise in the range projected under the RCP emission pathways (approximately 0.4–0.7m by 2100, with greater sea level rise in Sabah-Sarawak).
  • Modelling suggests that the occurrence of droughts and floods early in the rice-growing season could reduce yields by up to 60%. Furthermore, drought conditions may impact the cultivation of rubber, palm oil and cocoa.
  • In Malaysia, climate change threatens to exacerbate poverty and inequality, with low-income earners economically dependent on activities where climatic conditions play a prominent role, such as agriculture, fishing and informal sectors in the urban economy, and typically living in more exposed areas.

(Source: Relief Web / Climate Risk Country Profile: Malaysia (2021): The World Bank Group and the Asian Development Bank)

Climate Change Nature Earth

One of the key causes of climate change is deforestation which frequently takes place in almost every country and in an even worse situation in developing countries like Brazil and Malaysia. Image source: Global Giving

Final Say

The dire effect of climate change is not an issue for selective countries in the world and we are seeing this even in ultra-modern Europe where the living condition is improved and the use of technology namely renewable energy and modern farming is widely in use. The situation in Europe is made even worse with the Ukraine-Russia war and the implication of a trade ban on Russia.

However, the situation in Europe should be taken as a strong reminder that climate change is real and its impact of it is not positive and the impact of this is going to be long-term and devastating. If developed countries in Europe can be facing these hardships, then just imagine the effect on developing countries like Malaysia. We cannot ignore the symptoms that are clearly facing us.

In Malaysia, we are still having massive deforestation and we already seen the impact of major flooding that is due to these deforestation and prolonged rainy seasons. However other than slogans, promises and often denials from our politicians, the situation does not look like it will improve. The country needs a more comprehensive direction on preserving the forest areas and we need to also push for renewable energy.

The last thing we need is the situation like in Europe now.

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