Written by Tim Hever
PARIS (Reuters) – The European Space Agency (ESA) director warned that economic damage from heat waves and droughts could cast a shadow over Europe’s energy crisis, while urging urgent action to tackle climate change.
The successive heat waves, fires, lowering rivers and rising temperatures on Earth, measured from space, leave no doubt about the consequences of climate change on agriculture and other industries, Josef Schbacher, director general of the European Space Agency, told Reuters.
“Today we are very concerned about the energy crisis, and that’s true. But this crisis is very small compared to the impact of climate change, and it is a much larger impact that really needs to be addressed very quickly,” he said.
Schbacher made the comments in an interview as heat waves and floods raise concerns about extreme weather conditions around the world.
Fires in France have burned more than 57,200 hectares this year, nearly six times the average for the whole year.
In Spain, a prolonged drought has made July the hottest month since at least 1961.
The Great Salt Lake in Utah and Italy’s Po River are at their lowest levels. The French Loire is now on the watch list.
On Tuesday, the UK issued a new warning about ‘extreme heat’ for anavar.
This is due to record temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, which brought attention back to climate risks at the Farnborough Air Show in southern England in July, where Schbacher said the problem represented humanity’s greatest challenge.
“It is very dangerous. We have seen extreme borders that we have not seen before,” Ashbaker told Reuters this week.
High air temperatures are not the only problem. The Earth’s surface is also warming.
Schbacher said the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel 3 series of satellites had measured “maximum” surface temperatures of more than 45 degrees Celsius in the United Kingdom, 50 degrees Celsius in France and 60 degrees Celsius in Spain in recent weeks.
The Earth’s surface temperature drives air circulation.
“The entire ecosystem is changing very, very quickly, much faster than scientists had predicted until just a few years ago,” he said.
“It’s the droughts, the fires, the intensity of storms, they are all visible signs of climate change.”
As temperature changes are also more pronounced, winds get stronger and cause more intense storms.
“Hurricanes are much stronger than before in terms of wind speed and therefore damage,” Ashbacher said.
The financing gap due to Brexit
The Austrian scientist was appointed director of the Paris-based European Space Agency last year after leading the Earth-observing work for the 22-nation agency, which includes the Copernicus programme, which the ESA says is the world’s largest environmental watchdog effort, and of which it shares European leadership. union.
The program’s six families of Sentinel satellites aim to read the planet’s “vital signs,” from carbon dioxide to wave height to Earth’s surface and ocean temperatures.
Images from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite taken around the same day in June between 2020 and 2022, released by the European Space Agency, show how the Po River, affected by drought and whose plains support a third of Italian agriculture, has retreated to leave wide sandbanks. exposed. .
However, the program faces a Brexit funding shortfall of 750 million euros ($774 million) needed to help develop a second generation of satellites that were to be supplied by the UK through the European Union and whose fate is now under discussion.
After leaving the European Union last year, the UK remained a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) and its direct contribution of €170 million was not affected.
“We still need 750 million to complete the development of this second generation of satellites,” Asbacher said.
“And yes, it’s certainly an issue for climate monitoring globally, but (also) for Europe in particular, because many of these benchmarks refer to Europe’s priorities.”
European Space Agency ministers will discuss a funding package for Earth observation estimated to be worth around €3 billion in November.
Schbacher dismissed what he described as the myths of critics who question international climate pressure.
“The first is that people think that’s to be expected and that we hope to get through it somehow,” he said. “The second is that dealing with climate change will cost a lot of money … and it will affect the poorest people, so we shouldn’t,” he said, adding that warnings such as this year’s weather crisis should not cost hundreds of billions of dollars this century.
“Of course there are always fluctuations in the weather … but not on this scale. I have no doubt that this is caused by climate change,” Ashbaker told Reuters.
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(Reporting by Tim Hever; Additional reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Mark Potter; translated by Flora Gomez)