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Urgent Action Needed to Combat European Climate Change

Mon 3rd Dec 2012

The European Environment Agency ( EEA, an agency representing 32 member states set up by the European Union) issued a recent report entitled "Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2012." The report describes shocking examples of climate change and predicts even more shocking future impacts of the changing climatic conditions in Europe. However it never spells out the real causes of the climate change (our dependence on and use of fossil fuel for example) nor does it propose any far ranging solutions. At least none are reported in the story published by ScienceDaily on November 23, 2012 covering its conclusions ("Climate Change Evident Across Europe, Confirming Urgent Need for Adaptation.")

The EEA informs us that throughout Europe extreme weather has resulted in more and more destruction from floods, droughts, heat waves and that these trends are on the increase with greater occurrences expected in the future. Rainfall has been going up in Northern Europe and down in the South. All across Europe the temperature has been going up and new higher averages are being recorded. Not only that, but this warming trend is melting away the sea ice in the Arctic, the Greenland ice sheet and many of Europe's glaciers. Also most of Europe's permafrost is now exposed and melting due to less snow cover.

The EEA isn't reported to be worrying to much about how this will impact the human population in Europe as such, but is warning all this climatic disaster could cost a lot of money: "If European societies do not adapt, damage costs are expected to rise, according to the report."

Granted all this extreme weather and climate change is in the works, the EU doesn't want to go out on a limb as to the cause: "more evidence is needed to discern the part played by climate change in this trend…." Our climate deniers here in the US could not agree more. Meanwhile more than 95 per cent of climate scientists are agreed that this "trend" is the the result of human caused global warming.

The EEA also knows that humans are involved because while they need "more evidence" as regards climate change they do add that, according to ScienceDaily, "growing human activity in hazard-prone areas has been a key factor" in the rise of damage costs. But it is not just activity in "hazard prone areas" and it is not simply "human activity"-- it is the activity of the trans-national and national corporations on a world wide basis polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases and the governments that refuse to take meaningful action against them - including some EU governments that sponsor the EEA.

The best the EEA Executive, Jacqueline McGlade, can come up with to counter the damages of climate change is to hope people can "adapt" themselves to it. This is at least the implication of the ScienceDaily quote attributed to her: "Climate change is a reality around the world, and the extent and speed of change is becoming ever more evident. This means that every part of the economy, including households, needs to adapt as well as reduce emissions."

What we have to do is force political actions that reign in the oil, gas, and coal industries and others who want to increase and further develop the uses of carbon based fuels. What we need is binding international agreements that reduce and eliminate the use of all chemicals that endanger the lives, health and well being of human beings and other life forms making up the biosphere. The climate change meeting in Doha this week will show how seriously the governments of the world take this challenge.

Thomas Riggins is the associate editor of Political Affairs online.
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