As reported IN a major collaborative international research project, named SIAM II, Portugal is one of the European countries that are expected to suffer from the most extreme consequences of global warming and climatic change. These consequences are expected to entail three major geological effects in Portugal. First, due to the rise in sea levels, studies predict an increase in the erosion of Portugal's coastal areas. Second, scientists anticipate increased levels of rain precipitation and the concomitant occurrence of floods that will carry high social and economic costs. Finally, in dry areas of the country, studies point to a higher probability for the incidence of forest fires. Studies show that the tendency for increasingly hotter summers in Portugal has accelerated in the past few decades. Research and analysis based on data collected from 1931 to 2000 in Portugal demonstrates that the six hottest summers occurred in the last 12 years.
The Portuguese population is slowly becoming aware of the relationship between global warming and climate change within the borders of their nation, and this awareness is becoming stronger. One of the reasons for increased knowledge concerning the impact of global warming on Portugal has been the occurrence of major forest fires, as well as fluvial floods. In this context, the mass media and government officials have played a crucial role in sensitizing and educating the Portuguese population about the risks associated with global warming. Another reason is the fact that an increasingly large percentage of the Portuguese population is university educated and, in this context too, they are exposed to recent and important national as well as international research concerning the issue.
Due to Portugal's relatively late entry into the European Union in 1986, and its previous situation of economic isolation and considerable underdevelopment in terms of European standards, Portugal is still highly dependent on importing energy derived from nonre-newable sources. According to the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat), Portugal is 99.4 percent dependent on such imported energy. Because of the economic weight that this carries, it is oftentimes difficult for enterprises to develop or invest in alternative and more ecological forms of energy supply. For this reason, it is feared that Portugal may face difficulties in reaching Kyoto established goals.
sEE ALsO: Deforestation; Energy; Floods.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. F.D. Santos, K. Foibes, and R. Moita, eds., 2002 Climate Change in Portugal: Scenarios, Impacts and Adaptation Measures—SIAM Project (Gradiva, 2002).
Katja Neves-Graca Concordia University
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