Climate change is not a danger that has suddenly appeared overnight. It is a slow-moving phenomenon. A recent study by an environmental think tank, Observatorio para la Sostenibilidad (the sustainability observatory), has analysed the change in the average temperature readings across Spain, discovering that the average temperature has increased by 1.3 degrees at Malaga Airport since 1988.
The increase may seem small to the general public but it is frightening for experts. The scientists on the project predict a total rise of 2.4 degrees in Malaga city by 2050. By then, the average temperature will have gone from 18.1 degrees in 1943 to 20.5 degrees a century later. After Granada, Malaga has the biggest increase of the Andalusian provincial capitals.
"It has always been hot in the summer" is a recurring phrase nowadays. Yet, José María Sánchez-Laulhé, director of Aemet, the Spanish meteorological office, is concerned about this rise: "1.3 degrees is a very big increase in such little time," he warned. The meteorologist points out that it is an increase that exceeds the global estimate of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC).
"It's a lot, and it can have consequences of all kinds. From a scientific point of view, nobody denies that climate change exists," explains Javier Ruiz, PhD in Environmental Sciences at Malaga University.The problem is in the perception. If there is no sense of real danger and awareness among the population, it becomes difficult to improve the situation."
But the consequences of Malaga's average temperature increase are visible. Ruiz lists the rise in sea level and harvests that no longer take place at their usual time of year.
The case of Malaga at an Andalusian level is alarming, but the observatory has analysed a total of 51 Spanish cities. In all of them, they found an increase in average temperature. Barcelona, another Mediterranean port, shows an increase of 1.9 degrees. The average temperature in Ávila, an example of an inland city, has risen by 1.8 degrees.
Ruiz explains that "the only thing humanity has done for [global warming] is increase it", and on the subject of reversing the damage, warns that "we should at least not make it any worse". The projection for 2050, however, suggests a more pessimistic outlook, with Malaga's average temperature continuing to rise.
According to the experts, planting more trees would be the best way to mitigate and lower the temperature in Malaga. Enrique Salvo, Plant Biology professor at the university insists on "creating a lot more greenery in the cities". This would at least reduce the effects of the 'urban heat island' in Malaga; an effect which occurs in places where there is a dense population. He pointed out that this is not the time for climate change deniers: "We need to take action, we are already very late and there's no stopping it".