A church in Italy is pictured while the hell is spreading behind. Credit: Marco Vancini

By Raffaele Del Gatto

The climate change’s topic is becoming more hot each passing year. Media and newspapers are talking often about the issue since Trump took place in the White House. And the situation doesn’t look good as he decided to withdraw his country from the Paris Agreements in late May 2017. Trump’s stance on climate change has always been controversial, although many politicians have started to take it seriously.

Climate change brings “Lucifer” to Italy (and Europe)

In Italy the weather is a top trend subject in this period, as in the first week of August the temperature amply crossed the 40 degrees. Hot summers in Italy are the norm but this year the heat wave has been exceptional. We’ve already seen a similar condition in 2003, however this time many cities set new records. Is good to remind that 2003 summer is known as the hottest in Europe since 1540 and caused many troubles. The stretching of the African anticyclone from North Africa to Central Europe is what causes those heat waves.

Another exceptional aspect of this hot summer is its length. Since early June the country has counted five heat waves, reaching the peak in August. “Lucifer” is the nickname of this last sweltering heat wave. It may sounds good to tourists which are enjoying their vacations at the shores but the country and its citizens are facing big problems. For instance, the high temperatures are causing hundred of victims through the country. However it’s too early to realise if there are more victims then in 2003, when over 10.000 people lost their lives.

The Italian Ministry of Health has issued several level 3 warnings since June, remembering people the risks for their health.

The weather is also causing damages to the agriculture. Coldiretti estimates a loss of 2 billions of euros in the sector. Cereals, tomatoes, olive oil, vegetables, legumes and milk are the hardest hit products. Moreover, the breeders have claimed that many farm animals have died due to the burning hot.

A country engulfed in flames running out of water

In addiction to this, the country has to face a dramatic drought and a series of fires that are devastating the territory. Many regions will ask the state of emergency due to the low rainfall occurred in the previous months. As consequence of the climate change, the high pressure is hovering on the country for more time reducing the precipitation.

The drought is a complex phenomenon and one parameter alone is not enough to judge its state. For example, the ISPRA uses the volume of rainfall in a period of time to produce its studies. Now let’s take a look at the charts below.

SPI chart for Italy on 6 months period
The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) based on the last 6 months. (July 2017 as last month). Below zero values from moderate drought to extreme drought. Above zero values from moderate humidity to extreme humidity.
Credit: ISPRA
SPI index of Italy for 12 month period
The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) based on the last 12 months. (July 2017 as last month). Below zero values from moderate drought to extreme drought. Above zero values from moderate humidity to extreme humidity.
Credit: ISPRA

 

The first chart is indeed quite alarming. We can see that in the last 6 months the rainfall levels are quite low and therefore lands are drying up. However if we extend the period of time to 12 months we have a different picture. In fact, the second chart shows rainfall levels within the norm. This may indicate a country that is failing to retain his water sources. Italy after all is known for its hydrogeological instability, amply caused by ineffective policies and bad administration piled up in the last decades. Soon or later, politicians will need to make wise decisions since the pressure from the citizens is likely going to rise.

A country on fire

Drought and extreme temperatures have led to record fires within the country. The estimates from May to July tell us that about 75.000 hectares have been burned, as reported by Legambiente. It is an increase of 156,41% against the whole 2016, and the summer is not over yet. The country has requested, for the first time since 2009, the help of European Commission through the Civil Protection Mechanism. The image of the burning Vesuvius has spread around the world and it shows well the discomfort experienced by the people.

Vesuvius on fire
The Mont Vesuvius on fire during the summer 2017.

 

Forest fires wouldn’t have been so extensive without the criminal hands of the pyromaniacs. Indeed, those maniacs appear to be highly active in 2017. The police has already captured 28 of them, without counting the month of August, but the number of arsonists in circulation is higher. With all this devastation the government couldn’t just stay sit and watch. Is not a coincidence that the sentence for this kind of crime has been incremented in August. But if the government wants to resolve the issue it has to use more preventive actions.

The country is at risk of desertification and this year many lands look desert-like, in particular at the south. The process is likely going to get worst in the next years, so Italians need to prepare themselves to deal with climate change’s effects .

An alarming future

As in 2003, the heat wave has reached other regions of Europe as well. Spain, Southern France and several East countries faced extreme temperatures. And with perfect timing, the European Commission Joint Research Centre has raised a serious alarm. By the end of the century weather related hazards will put at risk 351 million people, as the study reported. The Commission concluded that from 2075 and 2100 the number of fatalities could rise to 151.000 per year. The most affected region will be of course Southern Europe, with Spain and Italy on the front line.

The sad thing of the story is that regardless of how intense the climate change’s effects are, some people still don’t believe that they are real or that they are caused by human activities or that they will harm them personally.

 

Former HR manager and World Editor of International Business Times Italy (Newsweek media group). Now CEO and Founder of The Business Globalist and Jobs Into Media.

Raffaele Del Gatto is a geek person obsessed by innovation, interested in geopolitics, economics and management, passionate about trading and video games.