Rising temperatures pose threat

If temperatures in Greece rise by an average of 2 degrees Celsius (6F) over the next 25 years, there will be a worryingly negative fallout for tourism, agriculture and energy conservation, according to a report made public by the National Observatory yesterday – issued on the hottest day of the year so far. The study, commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), examined the consequences of climate change around the globe for the period between 2030 and 2060. It found that the Mediterranean would be one of the most severely affected regions. According to the observatory’s research, the area of Greece which would be primarily affected by the rise in temperatures would be Crete, where summer-like conditions would be stretched by seven weeks. However, contrary to what might be expected, such a change would not necessarily boost tourism. In fact, throughout Greece and the Mediterranean, a longer summer would mean less annual rain, which in turn would lead to a scarcity of drinking water and an increase in desertification and the number of forest fires. This would no doubt dent the allure of many tourist spots. Experts in Greece have already identified the early stages of desertification in parts of Crete, the Aegean islands and Thessaly. The Mediterranean coastline is the world’s most popular tourist destination, attracting 30 percent of the world’s tourists (115 million visitors a year), WWF said. «In Greece’s case, one of the most profound consequences of the rise in temperature will be the splitting into two of the peak tourist season – between the end of spring and the beginning of autumn,» Christos Giannakopoulos, a researcher at the National Observatory, told Kathimerini, adding, «The middle of summer will probably be too hot for the average tourist.» The lack of rainfall brought on by global warming will also have a severe impact on agriculture. Experts estimate that almost 90 percent of total water consumption in Greece is used for irrigation purposes. WWF said that higher temperatures and longer droughts could also cause a 40 percent drop in agricultural yields and that crops depending on rains would be severely affected. Meanwhile, the use of electricity is expected to shoot up as more households turn to air-conditioning systems to keep cool, prompting doubts about whether the power grid can meet demand. The Public Power Corporation warned customers on Thursday not to overuse their air conditioners during the current heat wave due to fears of a possible power outage. «The message is clear, if we ignore the threat of climate change, the consequences will not only affect nature and our quality of life, it will impact on a range of important economic fields for our country,» the director of the Greek branch of WWF, Dimitris Karavelas, told Kathimerini.

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