Consequences of 2018 drought linger as Germans increasingly see climate as major issue
Clean Energy Wire / Tagesspiegel Background
After exceptionally dry weather in 2018, the soil in many parts of Germany is still much drier than normal – despite above-average rainfall in most of the recent months, Germany's National Meteorological Service (DWD) says in a press release. “Should the dry weather continue in the coming months, the 2018 drought could be repeated or even surpassed,” DWD’s Udo Busch said, warning of tough times for farmers. Sustained drought in Germany also raises the risks of forest fires, which have burned several acres already this month.
Exceptionally high temperatures in northern Europe, drought and resulting low water levels in the Rhine River fuelled the climate change debate in Germany last summer. Last year was Germany’s warmest since measurements began in 1881, and eight of nine hottest years since 1881 have been in the 21st century. The DWD said that “this remarkable concentration of warm years clearly shows that global warming is unchecked.”
In an article in Tagesspiegel Background, Jakob Schlandt reports that climate change has received record public attention in Germany over recent weeks. A long-term survey by pollster Forschungsgruppe Wahlen asks Germans to name the two “most important current problems”. “Environment/Energy Transition” now ranks second (named by 26 percent of respondents) just behind “Foreigners/Integration/Refugees” (27 percent). Climate change is likely to be the issue respondents had in mind, as other environmental topics – aside from plastic waste – have received little attention in recent months, Schlandt writes. The pollster’s managing director, Matthias Jung, told Tagesspiegel increased focus on the environment was down to last year’s drought and the Fridays For Future climate protests, as well other concerns – such as the economic situation – becoming less pressing. Germany’s political parties are already responding with a greater focus on climate protection policy, Schlandt writes.