At the end of May parts of France were hit with days of heavy downpours, causing significant damage and flooding. Scientists at the World Weather Attribution (WWA) have now suggested that human-caused climate change is one of the main reasons for the three-day rainstorm. The scientists analysed observational data and used climate change models to determine the causes of the extreme weather.
“We know that global warming leads to more downpours in general,” said Robert Vautard, a senior scientist with France’s Laboratory for Climate and Environment Sciences and Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace. “But with this attribution analysis, we found we could tie global warming directly to the recent rainstorms in France that triggered so much flooding and destruction.”
Overall, the probability of three-day extreme rainfall in this season has increased by at least 40 percent in France, with the best estimate about 80 percent on the Seine and about 90 percent on the Loire. All four climate models that simulated the statistical properties of the extremes are in good overall agreement. WWA scientists also ran analyses for Germany, but the results there were inconclusive.
Vautard worked with Florence Habets — a colleague from the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace and fellow WWA scientists from the University of Oxford, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and Climate Central, using observational data and climate models to conduct near real-time analyses of the likelihood that climate change contributed to the recent heavy rains in France and Germany. By reviewing the on-the-ground impacts, the team realized it needed to define the meteorological event differently in France and Germany. In France, the event was best characterized by looking at three-day rainfall extremes from April to June over the Seine and Loire River basins. In Germany, the team analysed trends in one-day maximum precipitation over the hardest hit area (a region stretching from 48°-51°N and 7°-13°E) from January to June.
“Using an ensemble of different climate models and different methods we got very consistent numbers for the impact of climate change on the rainfall in France, giving us confidence in the results,” said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a researcher with KNMI who led the analysis. “For such late-spring thunderstorms in Germany this was not the case, so we’re holding off on drawing conclusions for those events at this stage.”
“The same overall weather pattern — a stalled system of low pressure — triggered the heavy rains in both France and Germany, but affected each country very differently,” explained Karsten Haustein from Oxford University. “In France, problems were caused primarily by rivers bursting their banks, requiring mass evacuations. In Germany, thunderstorms dropped large amounts of rain in a very short period of time in mountainous terrain, causing devastating flash floods.”
In one location in Southern Germany, walls of water crushed cars and houses, sending residents searching for the safety of rooftops. In parts of central and north-eastern France, historic flooding of rivers led to widespread power outages and the closing of Parisian landmarks like the Louvre museum. The deluge is reported to have killed at least 18 people in Germany, France, Romania and Belgium.
Maarten van Aalst, the director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, added: “These latest lethal floods in Europe illustrate the rising impact of extreme-weather events, including developed and well-prepared countries like Germany and France. Sadly we saw that even advanced infrastructure and water management cannot prevent some areas and neighbourhoods being overwhelmed and people sometimes dying. And hardware goes hand-in-hand with awareness: well-briefed citizens know what to do when intense rainfall and thunderstorms are forecast, and they can get out of harm’s way.
“People affected by extreme events need an objective assessment of the causes,” said Heidi Cullen of Climate Central. “There is often speculation about the possible role of climate change when extreme weather events take place, generally lacking sound scientific evidence. Our goal is to provide quantitative answers using multiple peer-reviewed methodologies so we can let the science speak for itself.”
Richard Black, Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: “The ability to analyse scientifically whether man-made climate change has played a role in specific extreme weather events is advancing at a startling pace. Until very recently, scientists weren’t able to make this sort of judgement, but that’s changing fast.
“Within the last year or so we’ve learned that climate change made both last year’s European heatwave and last December’s extreme rainfall in parts of the UK more likely; and now scientists conclude man-made climate change probably almost doubled the likelihood of the recent French floods.
“This kind of information is really useful. It helps civil authorities plan for increasing extreme weather events of the future, and shows policymakers the increased risks that lie ahead if they choose not to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.”
A scientific paper detailing the results for France and Germany analyses has been prepared and will be submitted to the journal HESS. A non-technical summary of the extreme rainfall analyses may be found on the WWA website.
4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again
As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.
Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.
Jars and Containers
Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.
An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.
Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!
If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!
Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!
These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money
The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.
Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.
Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.
Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale
The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.
Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.
Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI
It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.
Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.
Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.
Implementing green changes without a plan
Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.
Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:
- How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
- How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
- How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
- How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?
The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.
Not considering the benefits of green printing
Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.
Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.
According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:
- They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
- They consume less energy than traditional printers.
- They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.
You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.
Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers
Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.
The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.
You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.
Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.