The 4th National Climate Assessment has been released by the Global Change Research Program. I’m including a summary of the key messages for the Southeast Region and some links below.
Key messages for the Southeast:
- Southeastern cities are highly vulnerable to heat, flooding, and vector-borne disease (think mosquitoes borne diseases). In rural communities, more frequent extreme heat episodes and changing seasonal climates are projected to increase exposure-linked health impacts and economic vulnerabilities in agriculture, timber, and manufacturing. High tide flooding in coastal areas will become common.
- Changing winter temperature extremes, wildfire patterns, sea levels, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and warming ocean temperatures are expected to redistribute species and greatly modify ecosystems.
- Globally, if we do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nighttime minimum temperatures above 75°F and daytime maximum temperatures above 95°F become the summer norm and nights above 80°F and days above 100°F, now relatively rare occurrences, become commonplace. Cooling degree days (a measure of the need for air conditioning [cooling] based on daily average temperatures rising above a standard temperature—often 65°F) nearly double, while heating degree days (a measure of the need for heating) decrease by over a third. The freeze-free season lengthens by more than a month, and the frequency of freezing temperatures decreases substantially.
As a temporary, transient citizen of this earth, I struggle to know what to do about all these big problems. For me, I try to live each day deliberately, making choices about my lifestyle that will leave the smallest footprint possible, but it’s hard. I’m not perfect, I have a 25 mile commute, drive a minivan, and heat my house to a comfortable temperature. My second vehicle, however, is electric. I turn off the lights, and switched to led light bulbs. I’m doing what I can and will try to do more. I also talk with people who have questions about climate change. On this topic, the most frequent question I get from friends, neighbors, people I meet in passing is “Is climate change real?” My response is always grounded in these impacts which are visible now, affecting myself, my friends and neighbors personally. If you’d like to know more about how climate change is affecting our region, I’ve included a direct link to the Southeastern chapter of the report.
Southeast chapter: https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/chapter/19/
National Climate Assessment, 4th assessment: https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/