Impact of Climate Change

climate change

Photo by Wagner Machado Carlos Lemes

Climate change is currently a hot-button topic. It is on the lips of scientists, politicians, economists, and now it is even common discussion in the office, and whenever someone notices ‘man the weather is X compared to last year’. Despite the continued resistance by conservative and business-motivated individuals other agencies put forth overwhelming evidence in favor of the climate change theory. It may not exactly be the global warming originally predicted by environmental scientists, but as our weather and our climate becomes progressively more violent, fewer individuals can put up any kind of argument that climate change is definitely happening. All you have to do is look at the weather for this year, and last year in this area, and you see it happening.

Let’s take a look at 2012 first, as a set up to this year. Despite record highs, and lows through the year, the New York Times and several other agencies, such as the NOAA (the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency,) reported that 2012 was the hottest overall year on record. Overall, temperatures rose a full degree globally. This doesn’t sound like much, but last year’s increase in temperature led to record droughts throughout the US, massive flooding due to increased precipitation in China, wildfires that killed thousands globally, and other extreme weather events.

Typhoons, Hurricanes, and tornados continued well outside their usual seasons as reported by several weather programs. In addition, the US National Ocean Service reported an ocean rise of about 3 millimeters. This is another small number, but on average, the ocean used to rise about 1-1.5 millimeters a year until the 1990s. Since then, the rate of increase of ocean rise has increased drastically. All of these studies occurred last year, and by all accounts, this year’s weather has been wilder.

The United States was rocked hard by changing weather patterns in the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, emphasizing the effect that climate change has on our day-to-day lives. The massive storm that hit the east coast, flooded the New York subways and left millions without power was just the beginning, as huge snow storms and intensely cold weather lingered well past the usual winter months. In March, O’Hare airport had record-snow cover, over 2 inches more than ever recorded in that month.

Florida experienced record low temperatures that extended into April. May saw two kinds of weather extremes. A massive snowstorm hit from Arkansas to Minnesota well out of season, and Oklahoma recorded over 100 tornados during the month that caused millions of dollars of damage and killed hundreds. This summer is setting more records for heat, with Death Valley hitting over 129 degrees, which makes it the hottest place ever recorded on Earth for the month of June.

Internationally, information is a bit harder to find regarding specific weather impacts, but all over the world saw higher highs, and lower lowers, leading to higher incidence of droughts during the summer, and more intense snowfall and cold during the winter. India saw approximately 230 weather-related, reported deaths in January of this year. Finland went from one extreme to the other, exceptionally cold, dry winter, with a complete switch in the month of May, where they recorded record highs. France reported record snowfalls in March, with winds at times gusting up to 100kph during some of the more intense storms.

Other countries throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East followed similar patterns, with temperatures swinging to extremes with very little transition time. These extreme weather patterns disrupted migration patterns for various animals and farming needs for seasonally dependent goods. Though information is not fully in, it also looks like this summer is going to exceed expectations for intense heat across the globe.

Many environmentalists and climatologists have stopped calling these changing weather patterns ‘extreme’ weather systems. As more of them occur every year, it stops being ‘extreme’ and becomes the average for our global weather patterns. Despite claims to the contrary, these changes are not going to be easily reversed, and are non-ignorable symptoms of climate change caused by humans’ impact on our environment.

These weather changes will cause more damage, and make it harder for growing nations contributing to the global economy, because it will be harder for them to produce anything in the inconsistent weather systems. These changes to our environment will impact all aspects of our lives, and our descendants’ lives. It’s not speculation any longer, it’s the new reality we have to live and plan for in our more ‘extreme’ future.

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