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With the COP16 Climate Conference going on in Cancun right now, temperature increase reports due to climate change make headlines all over the Internet. On Monday the Guardian reported that climate change scientists warn of a 4 degrees Celsius global temperature rise by 2060, that is to say within our lifetime. Of course 4 degrees Celsius is a global average. Europe now warns that the situation could be even worse in the Mediterranean Sea region. A temperature increase of 7 degrees Celsius is predicted before the end of the century.

Although it sounds like science-fiction climate change is something we will all experience one way or another. According to the EEA (European Environmental Agency) children that are born today in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea will be first-hand witnesses of rising temperatures. Heat waves will cause twice as many deaths as it does today (during the 2003 heat wave in France and Spain more than 70.000 people died), plants will relocate to milder climates and farmers will have to adapt to this new climate by changing their crops or simply accepting to see them disappear (like Italian grapes or French lavender).

Similar to the global temperature the average temperature over Europe is also projected to continue increasing over the next century… In addition most of the Regional Climate Models (RCMs) results show, that the warming is projected to be the greatest over north-eastern Europe and Scandinavia in winter (December to February), and in the Mediterranean in summer (June to August) (van der Linden, 2009;). Summer temperature are projected to increase by up to 7 0C in Southern Europe and 5 0C in the Northern Europe comparing the period 2080 – 2100 with the 1961 –  1990 average. (van der Linden, 2009).
EEA release

With a 7 degrees Celsius increase, the fight for water will become more acute than it already is today. Northern Europe, well-known for it’s rainy climate, might have to live with 20 percent more rain than today while the Southern countries will face drought and summers with temperatures rising above 40 degrees Celsius. The Alpine glaciers might be gone completely, affecting drinking water supplies for millions of people.

Considering that Europe is already 1,3 degrees Celsius warmer than a century ago (with a worldwide temperature increase of 0,7 degrees), a 7 degrees Celsius increase – which is more than possible – will have devastating results. Even now, with a 1,3 degrees temperature increase, we are already experiencing a dramatic rise in natural disasters and extreme weather occurrences while fresh water supplies become more and more scarce in parts of the world.