By our standards, here in the far south of
it had been a long, wet winter. Then suddenly, from one day to the next at the
end of last week, spring finally burst forth. Portugal
Bee-eaters, our most flamboyantly coloured nesting birds, have returned
and are hawking for insects in the radiant blue sky. The Golden Orioles are
back too, flashing through the lush green woodlands. Cuckoos announced their
arrival in the drizzle a few weeks ago - now they won’t shut up. It’s mid-April
and the countryside is awash with outrageous orchids and other wildflowers
What a change from the month of March, which had been as miserable as most could remember.
Portugal and had floods. It was the
coldest March in the Spain
since 1962. It was the coldest in UK since their records began
in the 1880s. More than 100,000 people in Germany spent the Easter weekend
without electricity after heavy snow dragged down power lines. Extreme conditions
prevailed all across the continent. Poland
Meteorologists explained that the jet stream had been operating much further south than usual. As a result, the Mediterranean countries experienced the early spring weather normally associated with northern
lately did the jet stream head northwards, bringing a return to more typical
As we in the
cast off our woollies as temperatures shot up towards the high 20s, the soothsayers began forecasting a scorcher of a summer. Algarve
One thing for sure, climate change is happening, influenced by humans or not. International participants attending a major conference on the subject in
this week warned that unless properly
addressed, global warming will lead to widespread famine and, yes, even more crippling
economic and social problems. Dublin
Numerous studies predict that average temperatures in
generally will rise this century by up to 6º higher than they were in the 1980s.
The warming in summer is expected to be greatest in and other countries in the
Mediterranean climatic zone. Portugal
Average summer temperatures in
Lisbon and the , for example, may rise from
28º t0 34º, with a noticeable increase by 2030 in the number of days exceeding
Rainfall is expected to decrease on the Portuguese mainland this century by between 20% and 40%. The Azores is unlikely to be so dramatically affected, but precipitation in
Madeira could plummet by 30% even though
temperature increases there may be only of the order of 2º or 3º.
The outlook is being analysed by the European Centre for Climate Adaptation (ECCA), which constantly monitors what a large number of international research organisations and scientific journals are saying on the subject.
be negatively affected by climate change,” states the ECCA, meaning it may
become a less attractive place to live or visit in both environmental and
economic terms. Higher average temperatures, an increase in the frequency of
droughts, heat waves and outbreaks of forest fires will induce greater risks of
soil erosion. Desertification may become irreversible. Algarve
Such a scenario would mean dramatic changes in the landscape and biodiversity of southern
some traditional crops may cease to be productive, there may be increases in
tick and mosquito-borne diseases, including a possible re-emergence of malaria.
Water shortages may restrict the operation of tourist facilities such as
swimming pools and golf courses. Portugal
Of course, some dismiss the science of climate change and talk of our vulnerability as mere conjecture and therefore not worthy of taking seriously. Others have simply no interest.
Only slowly is climate change entering the decision-making of governments, investors and tourist enterprises in
Europe, says the ECCA. “Studies
that have examined the climate change risk appraisal of local tourism officials
and operators have consistently found relatively low levels of concern and
little evidence of long-term strategic planning in anticipation of future changes
It suggests that, “in
, the aim should be to
direct tourist flows firstly towards the off-peak season, and secondly to the
northern part of the country, in which tourism is still relatively underdeveloped.” Portugal
Meanwhile, here in the sun-blessed far south, the spring of 2o13 could not be lovelier.