Climate change constitutes the greatest environmental threat humanity will face in the coming decades. A verifiable piece of information is the fact that the planet’s average temperature has increased almost a degree in the last hundred years. A fact, a reality that is a consequence of the constant and disproportionate emissions of greenhouse gases by the industrialised countries, which cause serious global changes in the climate.
The emission of greenhouse gases has different origins, such as the use of fossil fuels (coal, oil or natural gas), certain human activities, such as agriculture (cattle breeding, rice cultivation, nitrogenous fertilisers…), deforestation, industrial processes and the elimination of solid waste (garbage and human waste). Climate change is manifested through floods, droughts… which negatively affect the societies’ life conditions; they increase all kinds of costs (human, health, social, environmental, economic, etc.); they alter ecosystems, cause erosions and landslides, floods of riverside land, they hasten cold or heat waves, they lead to droughts and less availability of water. It is essential to continue the learning process about the causes and effects of climate change. Likewise, some actions to control or mitigate climate change are made necessary, as well as measures and actions to adapt to the already inevitable effects, as the Kyoto Protocol states. A commitment that focuses mainly on the energy sector, the various processes of industrial production, agriculture and livestock and the unavoidable waste generated by modern society.
In this sense, measures seeking to reduce these impacts have been applied in the region of Valencia. Measures that were collected in the first Valencian Strategy against climate change 2008-2012, as well as in its continuation for the 2013-2020 period, a result of the collaboration between the regional and local administrations and the R&D centres. They are mitigation measures in sectors related to Valencian economy (tourism, agriculture, industry), to equipment and infrastructures (transport, urban planning, housing) and to waste and gaseous emissions; and likewise, measures of adaptation in different fields like health, forestry, agriculture, water resources or landscapes.
However, the public policies aimed at combating climate change should include measures that improve the knowledge of the processes that cause it as well as those that derive from them. Investments in basic and applied research, in the promotion of R&D centres that address specific topics of our Mediterranean environments (deforestation, erosion, water shortage, emissions of CO2, etc.), and effective awareness-raising campaigns, capable of awakening the interest of citizens, close to local societies, are essential. This issue of Mètode, with a monograph on climate change, is certainly a reaction to these concerns. The future of our ecosystems and, in general, of humanity, is at stake.
Jorge Hermosilla Pla. Vice-Principal for Territorial Projection and Participation of the University of Valencia.
«Climate change constitutes the greatest environmental threat humanity will face in the coming decades»