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what are the concrete risks for France?

by drbyos

During a forest fire, near Belin-Beliet (Gironde), during the major fires of summer 2022. THIBAUD MORITZ / AFP

This post is taken from the newsletter ” Human warmth “, sent every Tuesday at 12 noon. Every week, journalist Nabil Wakim, who hosts the Chaleur Humaine podcast, answers questions from Internet users about the climate challenge. You can register for free here:

“When I read your articles on adaptation, I understand that in fact France is going to be more affected than I thought by climate change, I thought that the problems were going to mainly concern the countries of the South, with significant droughts . Can we list the main direct impacts on France? » Question posed by Victoria at the following address,chaudhomme@lemonde.fr.

My answer : Yes, many sectors and territories in France will experience significant damage due to global warming. It is true that other regions of the world will be even more affected, but the lack of water, the drop in agricultural yields, excess mortality, rising water levels or more frequent fires are among the major threats in France.

We spoke in an episode of the “Human Heat” podcast with geographer Magali Reghezza, who is one of the guests of the next episode in public, on July 4, with Paris councilor Alexandre Florentin – you can still register here.

Before answering in more detail, I recommend that you read our latest reports on the question of adaptation: first, this investigation into the rapid spread of the tiger mosquito, encouraged by climate change. And this descent along the Rhône, a river necessary for many uses for humans. All our articles on adaptation can be found in this section.

An (incomplete) list of the effects of climate change

It should obviously be specified that this will depend on the climate policies implemented and their effectiveness. But if we imagine a France that is heading towards an average temperature of 4 degrees higher, here is a series of very probable impacts in the coming years. This information is all taken from the 2021 report of the High Council for the Climate and the 2023 report from France Strategy on the subject.

Less and less available fresh water. The rains will also be heavy but more concentrated in time, which will not allow a good recharge of the water tables, especially in the west of the country. The flow of the rivers should be reduced by 10% to 40%. Agriculture in particular could lose more than 20% of the water it uses today. (We talked about it in an episode with CNRS researcher Agathe Euzen).Agriculture in bad shape. Droughts, heat waves and lack of water will weigh heavily on agricultural yields. The risks are different for crops and territories, but corn, grasslands or wheat could see their yields drop between 10% and 25% by 2050. But we must add to this the fact that extreme climatic events are more recurrent and damage crops.More fragile forests. As my colleagues have explained in a series of very well done reports, the French forest will see certain species, such as beech, disappear, and is generally weakened by the lack of water and pests. We talked about it in this episode of “Human Heat” also with forest engineer Laurent Tillon. Forest fires are also moving north on French territory.A drop in electricity production. The lack of water will have a significant impact on the production of dams (12% of French electricity today) but will also have an impact on the cooling of nuclear power plants. Conversely, the demand for air conditioning will increase, which could pose problems for production in the summer.Biodiversity at risk. Warming will accelerate the disappearance of certain species. In the Mediterranean, for example, in a France with an average temperature of 4 degrees warmer, 50% of plants, 35% of birds and 45% of mammals could have disappeared by 2080.Unsuitable infrastructure. Train tracks, roads, airports or electricity networks are also at risk, especially from flooding. But heat waves can also prevent trains from running or ground planes, as the 2022 heat wave has already shown.Harder cities to live in. The concentration of heat in cities with few green spaces can lead to very difficult temperature levels to bear. Bitumen and poorly insulated buildings retain heat, including at night. Cities such as Strasbourg, Grenoble or Clermont-Ferrand will thus be able to experience more than 30 days of heat wave per year in 2040.Higher excess mortality. The 2022 heat wave claimed more than 7,000 lives and this trend is likely to increase. As doctor Jean-David Zeitoun explained in an episode of the “Human Heat” podcast, warming plays a role in multiplying existing risks, especially for fragile people.

You have 19.28% .. “”.

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