Is Croatia getting warmer faster than the rest of the world?


Original article (in Croatian) was published on 28/07/2023; Author: Petar Vidov

Warming in the Mediterranean area is undeniably faster than in other parts of the Earth. This is also felt in Croatia.

“Croatia, like other Mediterranean countries, is warming faster than the rest of the world”.

The quoted sentence is part of the climatological review of the storm that hit Croatia on July 19, which was published on July 21 on the official website of the State Hydrometeorological Institute (DHMZ).

All leading media in Croatia reported key data from the DHMZ’s review. Some, however, have generalized the quoted formulation in the titles of their articles; The Mediterranean was missing, therefore leaving the conclusion that Croatia is warming faster than the rest of the world (Index, Vecernji list, Telegram).

Although the articles published by the mentioned web portals accurately conveyed the DHMZ’s assertion that the Mediterranean, to which Croatia geographically belongs, is warming faster than the rest of the world, insufficient precision in the headlines on social networks fueled accusations that the DHMZ and the domestic media are unfoundedly panicking about the climate crisis.

Some Facebook users hastened to publish compilations of screenshots of foreign media headlines, in some cases several years old, to show that in other countries they claim to be warming faster than the rest of the world, which should serve as an argument in favour of the thesis that DHMZ is exaggerating or panicking without reason (examples archived here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Such publications, however, do not refer at all to the content of the articles whose titles were screenshotted, ignoring the fact that it is possible that a certain country warms on average faster in one period of time, and slower in another period of time than the rest of the world.

As climatologists repeatedly warn, local weather patterns may vary, but this has no bearing on the fact that the overall temperature of the Earth is steadily rising due to the increased accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Likewise, it is an indisputable fact that the Mediterranean is indeed warming faster than the rest of the planet. The Mediterranean region, which includes Croatia, has already reached an average increase in temperature of 1.5 °C in relation to the pre-industrial period. The rest of the world today is about 1.2 °C warmer than in the pre-industrial era.

This fact is also recognized in the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, which was adopted by the Croatian Parliament in April 2020.

The consequences of accelerated warming have long been visible. According to the European Environment Agency, Croatia is among the three European countries with the highest share of damages from extreme weather and climate events in relation to GDP. Research recently published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health shows that Croatian cities have the highest excess mortality attributable to high temperatures among the 854 cities observed in Europe.

From all of the above, it is clear that posts on social networks that ridicule DHMZ and the Croatian media for alleged climate alarmism are not factually based. The Mediterranean region is undeniably warming faster than the rest of the planet, which is also visible in Croatia. For this reason, we assess that such posts lack context.

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