Earlier this week, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented a report that highlighted the seriousness of climate change. In Mallorca and the Balearics, tourism faces a long-term threat because of climate change, one aspect of this threat being the loss of beaches.
In 2019, Pau de Vilchez and Catalina Torres of the University of the Balearic Islands coordinated a report on climate change in the Balearics. One of the clearest impacts will be the disappearance of beaches because of the rise in sea level. If there is no action, says De Vilchez, the sea level will rise by up to two metres. With action there will still be a rise, one of around 50 centimetres, and sandy beaches in urban areas will be reduced or could disappear entirely. Where dunes systems have been conserved, the beaches could be saved.
Posidonia sea grass, he explains, needs moderate temperatures in order to survive. The posidonia filters water, keeps it clean and makes it look transparent. The remains of posidonia are beneficial for beaches. But the predicted rise in sea temperatures could mean that posidonia will disappear within 60 or 70 years. Beaches will not only be under water, the quality of the water will deteriorate.
The higher air temperatures will be less comfortable for tourists, who will look to go to destinations with more moderate temperatures. This, combined with the impact on beaches and the sea, convinces De Vilchez that other economic sectors need to be explored. "The current model is threatened. It is urgent that we look for alternatives."
Other impacts include there being less water, salinisation of aquifers, greater risk of forest fires, increased incidence of pests that affect crops, an acidification of the sea. Mortality will increase because of more respiratory and allergic diseases and heat waves.
Taking account of what the UN report says, De Vilchez concludes that "time has run out, and we can only act to try and ensure that the global temperature does not rise by more than 1.5 degrees".