Olive tree Italy. Image: Studio2 Shutterstock
Italy is facing a major crisis as a result of climate change, the country’s olive harvests continue to plummet. The Italian olive industry has witnessed a 57% decline in olive production and, according to a leading scientist, extreme weather conditions will affect many other crops.
Olive trees across Italy were devastated by weather events over the past year, including heavy rains, frosts, droughts, and high winds. All of these weather patterns coincide with what scientists have predicted would happen in the event of global warming.
“There are clear patterns that point to these types of climatic events as the main causes of lower food productivity.”
Professor Riccardo Valentini
Valentini pointed out that freezing temperatures are not common in Italy, and that extremes like this have already been predicted through different models in relation to climate change. The United Nations investigations also predicted similar weather patterns and indicate that the worst is yet to come.
When it comes to olive trees, any sudden change in temperature can have a devastating effect on the harvest. Valentini explained how a day or two of frost can damage trees and their development. After having experienced extreme weather, the trees never fully recover and are more susceptible to diseases and pests.
Olive trees Tuscany Italy. Image: Ju.hrozian Shutterstock
Overall, temperatures in Italy and the surrounding Mediterranean have increased by around 1.4ºC in the last century, while rainfall has decreased by 2.5%. Climate change has cost the country more than a billion dollars in olive production. Government officials are trying to find a viable solution, but have not yet offered solutions for farmers in the region.
Italy is not the only country affected by climate change. The European Commission recently predicted that olive harvests in Portugal will decline by around 20% next year. Greece will take a much bigger hit with a decline of around 42%. All signs point to a growing problem for European countries, as curbing the negative effects of climate change is proving to be a very complex issue.
More information: theguardian.com
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