What is climate change?
Climate change is a direct consequence of the accumulating concentrations of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Those gases let through the rays of sun light but stop the reflected heat from the earth. This phenomena is known as the greenhouse effect.
Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are important greenhouse gases. The concentration of these gases in our atmosphere has increased sharply since the beginning of the industrial age (1750). There is increasingly more evidence to suggest that the temperature increases we have observed over the last fifty years, are primarily attributable to human activities (e.g. the use of fossil fuels and deforestation).
Impact for man and environmentThis causes a global climate change, resulting this century in:
- an increase of the average temperature on a world scale by 1.1 to 6.4 °C.
- an increase or decrease of the amount of precipitation depending on the region.
- an increase in the sea level by 18 to 59 cm.
Flooding, draughts and the spread of diseases (e.g. malaria) are only a few of the consequences to be expected.
Scenarios to 2030 and to 2100
To gain insight on the possible developments in the coming decades, MIRA published the Environmental Outlook 2030 (dec. 2009). This outlook contains several scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions in Flanders until 2030, and also for the potential climate change in Flanders until 2100. The impact of climate change on water resources (floods, droughts, ...) is also discussed.