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08/09/2004Global warming alert
8 September 2004
BRUSSELS - By the year 3000, Brussels will be a coastal capital and Antwerp will have disappeared into the sea, warned a report out on Wednesday.
The study into the effects Belgium could suffer from global warming was carried out by the Catholic University of Leuven (UCL) and was commissioned by the environmental group Greenpeace.
A team of 20 experts, headed by climatology professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, warned Belgium would not escape the green house effect.
The researchers predicted that the country will see milder winters in the years to come, but that summers would become more humid, with many more heatwaves like 2003.
By the end of century, temperatures may rise between 1.7 and 4.9 degrees in winter and 2.4 to 6.6 degrees in the summer - the kind of temperature increases that haven't been recorded for the last 10,000 years.
Increased flooding, storms and coastal erosion were also predicted. The experts said an increase of one metre in the sea-level around Belgium would see 63,000 hectares of land disappear.
That problem could be tackled in the short-term, stated the report, through schemes to add extra sand to beaches.
One such project is currently under way in Ostend, for example.
The experts also said new species were proliferating in Belgium and would continue to do so, such as the arrival of oysters in the North Sea, which until now have preferred warmer waters.
Van Ypersele said some of the effects of climate change would be welcomed but added: "Looking at a horizon of 2030, 2050 or beyond, we can see that the potential negative effects significantly outweigh the few positive effects."
Greenpeace said it hoped the government would look at the report's findings and realise the importance of using more renewable energy sources and of developing a long-term environmental strategy.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news
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