The flood came. A country that was unprepared to deal with climate change

  The flood came.  A country that was unprepared to deal with climate change

It was Germany’s worst natural disaster in 60 years. The “devastating” floods that flooded the country left hundreds injured, dozens missing and at least 156 deaths, despite the fact that police believe “new victims will appear. But its This does not mean that this is the last and unexpected event for the time being. “Extreme weather events such as those affecting Central Europe are occurring all over the world and with different configurations: floods, but also heat waves”, which Describes the event, President of the Environmentalist Association Zero, Francisco Ferreira, i.

However, before considering how they might prevent the next natural disaster, rescue teams and law enforcement forces are now dedicating themselves to cleaning up German cities and helping those in need.

Thousands of emergency services and at least 850 soldiers were dispatched by helicopters, armored vehicles and boats to the worst-hit areas to rescue people trapped under water and debris.

Politicians are also stepping forward to mourn in these chaotic circumstances and see the devastation of the flood with their own eyes.

Chancellor Angela Merkel this Sunday visited the Rhineland-Palatinate region, one of the regions hardest hit by the floods, where more than 130 deaths have already been recorded and to implement all state aid to help rebuild. has promised. “From here we have a real image of what happened in front of a surreal and haunting panorama”, the chancellor said. “I would almost say that the German language has a hard time finding words to describe the devastation that has happened,” he said.

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The floods particularly affected the countries of Central Europe. Belgium has recorded 20 deaths and at least 20 people are missing. Prime Minister Alexander de Cru said he feared the balance of the number of victims would worsen. “At many places, the situation remains extremely critical,” he announced at a press conference.

The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland also suffered serious material damage.

Climate change It is no coincidence that these events take place in Central and Northern Europe. Francisco Ferreira explained to me that these events of high rainfall are getting worse with global warming and consequent climate change.

These changes are causing a decrease in the temperature difference on the continental scale, causing more heat at Earth’s two poles, slowing the circulation of air masses. “Thus, a heavy rain, rather than spreading over a large area, is concentrated in a more specific area, the soil becomes saturated quickly and without infiltration potential, there is a very high surface runoff for which the city And the infrastructure is not built because they were built on the basis of previous climate benchmarks”, the President of Ziro specified.

The tragedy raised many questions among experts about the increasingly major consequences of global warming and the ability of the German authorities to account for its unpredictable effects.

According to Francisco Ferreira, “The effects are directly related to land use planning and the location of urban centres, villages to cities, or infrastructure, highways to dams, which were based on a climate history that has changed, and is now at risk.” areas”, affirming that “many landholdings result in increased runoff, making the soil impenetrable”.

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Germany and Belgium live in a dire scenario, together they have over 180 deaths, and it is something that leaves the rest of the international community on alert. Could Portugal be a victim of a similar incident?

Portuguese experts recall that “we already have conditions of this nature”, naming the February 2010 case in Madeira and parts of the mainland as the passage of storms such as Mondego in December 2019. “However, it did happen. In a furious way, but during the winter, when at this time we realize that this type of event can happen in mid-summer too”, he warned.

But that’s not the only caveat that Francisco Ferreira leaves behind. “We know that if temperatures rise by more than 1.5 °C compared to the pre-industrial era, the consequences will be much more catastrophic and we are approaching that level”, he explains. “In addition, the climate is very resilient and it takes decades to return to a previous state. Thus, we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but we have to prepare ourselves to live with a new climate reality and rising sea levels.” There will have to be other serious impacts like levels”, warned the professor.

“If these dramatic events with heavy human and physical damage occur in developed countries, a costly recovery is possible but has the financial capacity to do so”, however, he pointed to cases such as Mozambique, Bangladesh, India, the Philippines. where extreme weather events have occurred in recent years and where recovery is more difficult and the consequences are even more dire.

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“All cooperation in this area between developed and developing countries is essential, as stipulated in the 2015 Paris Agreement,” appealed Francisco Ferreira.

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