Nebbiolo grown at high altitudes? A resurgence of malaria? Coffee plantations beneath the snow? What do they all have in common?
These situations might seem absurd, but the consequences of climate change could make scenarios of this type likely.
The effects of global warming (temperatures in March were more than 2.5°C above average) are particularly noticeable in agriculture. Plants for example are beginning to flower and mature in the early months of the year, becoming vulnerable to sudden frosts. Ask the winegrowers in the Gorizia hills, who lit bonfires to stop their vines from freezing. In April.
When all the pieces of the puzzle are put together, a reliable map is obtained of the various factors that are influencing and generating climate change.
A worrying vicious circle has been developing for a number of years: higher temperatures create difficulties for some crops, forcing the market to resort to imported goods. But the environmental cost of transporting cheap food items, often over long distances, is greater pollution, which simply exacerbates the original temperature problem.
So a strategy is needed, from government first of all, to tackle a problem that is acquiring global dimensions. The recent position of the US Administration on the Paris agreements at the G7 environment summit is a disturbing development, which further complicates the problem.
According to a study conducted by 40 scientific institutes around the world, living species are moving towards the poles at a speed of 17.72 km every ten years. Rising temperatures are forcing animal species to move towards locations offering climate conditions that are no longer present in their original habitats. The medium/long-term effects of this are difficult to predict. The disappearance of natural predators will permit the proliferation of other species that are potentially harmful to crops, and so on. Meanwhile, rising sea levels will generate new coastal marshlands, with a significant risk of a return of a series of insect-borne diseases. Diseases like malaria.
“When you starting combining all the individual phenomena, you obtain a map of the world with some alarming trends,” says Nathalie Pettorelli, senior research fellow at the Zoological Society of London. Pettorelli is one of the authors of the study and has been working with researchers from more than 40 bodies to track the effects that the movements of many species are already having on our daily lives. “Every nation will be affected in some way, and none of them is really prepared,” she adds.
So no one should be surprised if, in a few decades time, we find rows of Nebbiolo growing where people used to ski, or if animal species we used to see during summer seaside holidays turn up during winter holidays in the mountains.