Extreme meteorological phenomena are becoming more common all over the world. In recent years, we have witnessed record temperatures, rainfall and droughts. Such devastating natural disasters are omens of things to come, as extreme meteorological phenomena are projected to increase further due to climate change.

Finns should therefore prepare for temperate winters, heavy rains, floods, droughts and periods of sweltering heat – in short, for virtually anything.

“Uncertainty grows. We must prepare for not really knowing what to prepare for,” admits Mikael Hildén, a professor at the Finnish Environment Institute.

At the end of the century, mean temperatures in the country may be up to six degrees Celsius higher than at present, if the use of fossil fuels continues at its current rate. Precipitation, in turn, may have increased by 20 per cent.

Globally, temperatures are projected to rise by 3.7 degrees.

In addition to the changes in local weather conditions, Finns also have to adapt to phenomena occurring elsewhere in the world. Rising sea levels, floods, the depletion of water resources and droughts may prompt people to search for more benign surroundings. Meanwhile, the amount of arable land will decrease as the world's population continues to grow.

“We must think how to produce enough food to be able to feed the earth,” emphasises Helena Kahiluoto, a principal research scientist at Agrifood Research Finland (MTT).

Reducing the consumption of meat is one effective measure. “The share of animal source foods in our diet will definitely decrease. It's crucial for the climate and water systems to identify other measures as effective as reducing animal source foods,” Kahiluoto points out.

In order to manage the uncertainty, adaptability and resilience are both needed. In the future, food will be distributed more equally than today, Kahiluoto believes.

“That is inevitable.”

Sources: The Finnish Meteorological Institute, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Agrifood Research Finland, a draft of the National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change 2022.

Heli Saavalainen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Illustration: Jukka Peltosaari