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Consequences of Climate Change Impacting United States

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2022 is another climate change record breaking year impacting the United States.

“Observed Impacts of Global Climate Change in the U.S.” is the twelfth in a series of Pew Center reports examining the impacts of climate change on the U.S. environment? 

While past Pew Center reports have reviewed the potential impacts of future climate change, this report provides compelling evidence that ecosystems are already responding to climate change and provides insights into what we can expect from future changes in the Earth’s climate. 

Looking specifically at the United States, report authors, Dr. Camille Parmesan and Hector Galbraith find:

A number of ecological changes have already occurred in the United States over the past century in concert with increases in average U.S. temperature and changes in precipitation.

Warmer temperatures have resulted in longer growing seasons at the national level, altered carbon cycling and storage in the Alaskan tundra, and increased the frequency of fires and other disturbances in U.S. forests. 

Individual species such as Edith’s checker spot butterfly and the red fox have shifted north or to higher altitudes.

Other species including Mexican jays and tree swallows have experienced changes in the timing of reproduction, as have plants such as forest phlox and butterfly weed. 

These observed changes have been linked to human-induced warming of the global climate. 

There is increasingly strong evidence that the observed global climate change, particularly that of the past 50 years, is primarily the result of human emissions of greenhouse gases. 

Changes in U.S. climate have also been linked with human activities.

Changes in natural systems will continue and become even more apparent in the future, resulting in the degradation and loss of U.S. biodiversity.

With continued and more severe changes in the climate, the ability of U.S. wildlife to adapt through migration and physiological change will be increasingly limited. 

Furthermore, because of adaptive migration, species such as the red fox are now competing for habitat previously dominated by the arctic fox, threatening the arctic fox’s long-term survival. 

The challenge is even greater when considered along with the broad range of other environmental threats currently affecting wildlife, such as habitat loss, environmental contamination, and invasive species.

Extreme Weather

There have been changes in some types of extreme weather events over the last several decades. Heat waves have become more frequent and intense, especially in the West.

Cold waves have become less frequent and intense across the nation.

There have been regional trends in floods and droughts.

Droughts in the Southwest and heat waves everywhere are projected to become more intense, and cold waves less intense everywhere.

Severe Storms

Winter storms have increased in frequency and intensity since the 1950s, and their tracks have shifted northward over the United States.

Other trends in severe storms, including the intensity and frequency of tornadoes, hail, and damaging thunderstorm winds, are uncertain and are being studied intensively.

Increase Temperature

U.S. average temperature has increased by 1.3°F to 1.9°F since record keeping began in 1895; most of this increase has occurred since about 1970.

The most recent decade was the nation’s warmest on record. Temperatures in the United States are expected to continue to rise.

Because human- induced warming is superimposed on a naturally varying climate, the temperature rise has not been, and will not be, uniform or smooth across the country or over time.

Heavy Downpours

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Heavy downpours are increasing nationally, especially over the last three to five decades. Largest increases are in the Midwest and Northeast.

Increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected for all U.S. regions

Future Impacts

The recent PCC Assessment Report found that “the extent and magnitude of climate change impacts are larger than estimated in previous assessments.”

These impacts are felt in many ways:

•       It reduces our ability to grow nutritious food or provide sufficient clean drinking water, which in turn affects people’s health and well-being.

•       Increasing heat and extreme weather are causing plants and animals, both on land and in the ocean, to migrate towards cooler areas in our global North and South, to higher altitudes, or deeper areas in our oceans.

This migration of plants and animals also impacts the timing of key biological events such as breeding and flowering, which in turn impacts food chains and the entire ecosystem.

•       Longer wildfire seasons increase the surface area that burns during the hot months, which in turn further intensifies the stresses on wildlife, human health, and also agriculture.

It becomes apparent that the impacts of climate change are multifaceted and will impact our food and water supply, and our infrastructures and energy production.

While many individuals, communities, and businesses have begun adapting to climate change, the Working Group identified large gaps between ongoing efforts, and the required adaptation efforts.

With every increment of warming, the effectiveness of our efforts to offset climate change decreases and therefore a more urgent and ambitious action is required to quickly and effectively cut our emissions of greenhouse gases.

The faster and more drastically we manage to reduce these emissions, the more capacity there is for people and nature to adapt.

According to the report, it is now clear that “minor, marginal, reactive or incremental changes won’t be sufficient.” — USA FACT SHEET FOR NORTH AMERICA FULL REPORT (3,676 PAGES)

What can individual contribute to help fight climate change?

Here are 10 things we can do on an individual basis to fight climate change.

1.     Boycott greedy corporations who put their own profits ahead of our global objectives. This includes corporations who are resistant to adapt to a “reuse” economy and rely on single-use, fossil fuels, etc.

Boycott does not simply mean not buying products from these corporations, it also implies not buying their stocks and not working for these companies until they truly embrace their social responsibility (as opposed to greenwashing where they extensively highlight one thing that they do well and drown out any evidence of the things they do poorly).

2.     Cut down on convenience, since convenience has a large environmental cost.

3.     Have fewer children to curb overpopulation and secure food and water reserves for future generations.

4.     Reduce consumption. This includes our consumption of food, water, energy, and other “stuff.” We have created valuable guides and are making them available for free to help our society grow. Pick a few points at a time and commit to them until they become a habit (usually around 3 months).

5.     Have difficult conversations. There will always be some resistance to change but we all need to educate ourselves and one another. Be brave!

6.     Think collaboration, not competition. We’re all in this together and even though it may be easy to fall into a competitive “me-first” mindset when facing a potential extinction-level event, while there is still time to change and adapt, we need to embrace collaboration instead.

It may feel counterintuitive, since we’ve been coerced to out-compete our peers since our early school days, but the reality is that a collaborative mindset will get us further and much faster than a competitive mindset. So, let’s embrace it!

Our articles relating to climate change impacts:

China Extreme Weather Highlights Climate Change Impacts and Need for Early Warnings!

Consequences of Climate Change Impacting Europe

Must Read: National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration – The IPCC Climate Change 2022 Impacts

Disclaimer: This article received full authorization from Economy Vibe.

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