There is global cooling on your doorstep

Climate change in Germany: this is coming

Climate change is also taking place on the doorstep. We show five examples

1. Bad times for asthmatics and allergy sufferers

Just a few tenths of a degree increase in average temperature can have far-reaching consequences for our health - both direct and indirect

Children, the elderly and the sick in particular will increasingly suffer from extreme heat in summer - especially in cities, whose artificial rocky landscapes store the radiant heat. And hand them in at night. We will experience tropical nights with temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius in the asphalt jungle more often. Experts estimate that between 2071 and 2100 there will be 5000 more heat-related deaths in Germany every year.

The animal world also reacts to rising temperatures - and begins to migrate. So sooner or later exotic species such as the Asian tiger mosquito will be at home with us. And with them pathogens like the dengue virus. Ticks will be active longer - and increasingly transmit dangerous diseases such as early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) or Lyme disease.

Allergy sufferers and asthma sufferers will also feel the effects of global warming. Because the pollen season starts earlier and lasts longer. Higher temperatures will also encourage the spread of plants that can cause allergies. An example: the sagebrush ragweed from North America (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). It blooms into September and can trigger what is known as late summer hay fever.

On hot days, we will also have to deal with increased levels of fine dust and ozone. The strong sunlight in midsummer will increase the risk of sunburn. And with it skin cancer.

2. More floods and storm surges

Sea level rise and more frequent storms make life on the coasts uncomfortable

Due to the rising temperatures, it will rain less in the long term in Germany in summer. This can lead to droughts in certain regions, especially in areas where the soil cannot store much moisture. Rivers can often experience low water levels - which then hinder river navigation.

In winter, on the other hand, there will not only be more precipitation. The snow will fall more often than rain. Since it cannot be stored like in snow and ice, the risk of flooding increases along rivers. On the Elbe, for example, the relocation of dykes should provide relief in the event of a crisis. The effort is worth it: the Elbe floods in August 2002 alone caused damage amounting to 9.4 billion euros.

Cities also have to prepare for heavy rain in the future. Sealed surfaces are already preventing rapid seepage of rain into the ground.

Coasts in danger

Floods of the century, which have so far occurred every 350 years, could in the future occur approximately every 100 years. And that with more force - also on the Baltic coast. According to experts, the wind speed of winter storms is expected to increase by 14 percent by the end of the century. On the North Sea coast, storm surges could rise 30 to 80 centimeters higher by 2100 than today. This is another reason why the “climate surcharge” already applies in Schleswig-Holstein. New dykes are basically being built 50 centimeters higher than usual.

What is already an existential danger for farmers in Bangladesh could also affect us, albeit in a lessened form. Rising sea levels and more frequent storm surges will ensure that more salt water enters the groundwater or contaminates surface water. A serious problem for agriculture on the coast.

3. The forest is getting too hot

Forests provide us with important services. Even worse if they weaken as a result of climate change

Forests provide wood, protect wild animals and provide recreation for us humans, store precipitation and regulate the climate on a small scale. But the warmer it gets, the worse they can perform all of these functions. Changed precipitation patterns are primarily responsible for this. Experts expect that by 2050, rainfall in the summer months will be a quarter less than it is today. In autumn and winter, on the other hand, they will increase by a quarter.

The forests in southwest Germany are already struggling with summer heat and drought, especially in the drought years of 2018 and 2019. The spruce, the most common tree species in Germany, is particularly hard hit. It is originally native to the higher, cooler regions of the mountains. And now cannot adapt to the heat and aridity of the lowlands.

The risk of forest fires also increases during long periods of drought. And thanks to the mild winter temperatures, forest pests such as the bark beetle can spread faster.

Pests like the false white stem cup will continue to spread. The fungus with the strange name is responsible for the so-called ash dieback.

4. Green slopes and crowds on the Baltic Sea

Higher temperatures? Not bad at all, some holidaymakers in the Baltic Sea may think. But the increase in temperature also has disadvantages for tourists

Experts estimate that the summer season around 2100 could last around 60 days longer than it is today. Which will attract up to a third more tourists to German coasts. Among other things, because the classic vacation spots on the Mediterranean get too hot in summer. That means: it will be close to the Baltic Sea. Some seaside resorts are already fully booked in the summer, and the supply and disposal companies are reaching their limits.

Basically, warmer bathing temperatures and a longer bathing season are desirable. However, the higher the temperatures of inland waters and the Baltic Sea, the greater the likelihood of blue-green algae blooms. They are caused by cyanobacteria - which produce numerous toxins and can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal diseases. In seawater, too, high temperatures favor the growth of algae, bacteria, seaweed and jellyfish. Not a nice view for beach vacationers. At the seaside, more frequent storm surges and floods could bring bathing life to a standstill - and erode entire beaches.

Winter sports without winter

For half a century it has not been that far when it comes to guaranteed snow in the low mountain ranges and in the lower elevations of the Alps. Because there is less snowfall and the snow cover offers safe winter sports fun for a shorter period of time. Climate researchers fear that the Alps could be completely free of ice by the year 2100.

In order to enable the usual skiing pleasure, snow cannons are needed more and more often - but they swallow a lot of energy. To make snow on one hectare of slopes, a snow cannon needs as much electricity as an average four-person household does in five years.

That is why the classic winter sports areas have to think about alternative leisure activities - such as hiking and mountain biking.

5. That will be expensive - also for insurance companies

One industry that is pretty intensely concerned with climate change is the insurance industry. For one simple reason. Storm surges, hail or floods will occur more frequently - and cause more and more damage.

In 2011, countless buildings in Germany were destroyed in a hailstorm. The damage amounted to more than 280 million euros. And in the same year a similarly devastating storm followed. Insurance now faces a problem. Because such weather events cannot be precisely predicted. Nevertheless, the insurance companies have to calculate the increasing risks in order to calculate adequate insurance premiums.

A general compulsory insurance is also being discussed. Consumer advice centers and the Federation of Insureds are calling for all homeowners to have compulsory insurance against natural hazards such as floods. The devastating floods of 2002 and 2013 showed that homeowners would face financial ruin without adequate, affordable insurance.

The Federal Environment Agency has compiled the climate impacts for other sectors and individual federal states.

Global warming Here, climate change can be felt on the doorstep

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