Floods, fires or even heat waves. Since the start of summer, it seems that natural disasters have multiplied, leaving no one unscathed, rich countries as well as poor countries. The fault of climate change? The 6th IPCC report, released this summer, in any case launches the most severe warning signals on the progression of global warming and its devastating consequences for the planet. The forecast serves as a red alert since we should reach + 1.5 ° C in 2030, ten years earlier than the last estimate, which dated from 2018. QR the news takes stock of the climate issue with François Massonet, climatologist at UCLouvain and Xavier Fettweiss, climatologist at ULiège.
Exceptional rains this summer?
It is in any case the end of the summers that we knew before, explains François Massonet. “We are going to experience more and more summers punctuated by big heat waves as we have experienced in recent years, or summers punctuated by dsometimes extremely intense precipitation as in July“. In fact, to understand the phenomenon of climate, we must take a step back. Indeed, at the global level, this July was the hottest month on earth. “We have had heatwaves all over the world with very significant fires in Greece in particular, or even temperature records in Canada. If we take the global average for the planet, we remain at very high temperatures. “.
Besides the rains, temperatures in Belgium were very cool. A phenomenon which may surprise, while we are talking about global warming … For Xavier Fettweiss, this phenomenon is clearly exceptional. “The summers that are expected in 20 years, will experience a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees. This summer, it is an” anomaly “which does not illustrate the global phenomenon. On the other hand, winters, in 20 years, if the warming continues, will be seasons without snow below 100 meters of altitude.And for 2040, on the heights of the country, it is expected that the level of snow cover will drop by 30 to 40%.
Belgian climate refugees?
For François Massonet, we are being caught up by climate change. “What seemed like a long time ago to us 5 or 10 years ago is touching us. We know someone who has been a victim in one way or another of these floods. And this notion of climate refugee , which might have seemed a bit diffuse or distant to us, is now on our doorstep “. In the longer term, this notion of climate refugee could apply to Flanders, as Xavier Fettweis explains. “Belgium, and we think here in the north of the country, is particularly sensitive to the rise in sea level. Our country is very vulnerable vis-à-vis a destabilization of Antarctica. The entire valley of the Antarctic. The Scheldt is in a situation of potential danger “.
Climate change, natural phenomena?
The climate has always changed. In the past, we have experienced higher temperatures than today. On the other hand, the rate of climate change is excessively fast. “The variations in temperature on earth are of the order of one degree per thousand years. Here, we are talking about a degree of variation over a century only. And projections suggest 4 to 6 degrees of variation over the century to to come”. For François Massonet, this rate of temperature variation does not allow the planet to adapt. “With variations 10 to 20 times faster, this will lead to the lack of resilience for some species on earth.”
The climate is the biggest problem in human history, believes François Massonet. “The good news is that we know what is coming to us, we know what lies ahead, and we also know what we need to do. 10 years ago, I had doubts because there was no there was not this “climate consciousness” in public opinion and the media. We have concluded the Paris agreement, or even recovery plans in the United States and Europe with greendeal … All this should allow us to launch ambitious policies “.
Cop26 will take place in Glasgow next November. A climate conference which will have all its importance in avoiding the climatic “breaking points” so feared by some scientists.