Climate change is taking place! Slowly but surely it’s affecting everything, including the American continent. Over the past 50 years, in the U.S. alone, the temperatures have risen by 2°F. By the end of the century they are about to grow by another 7 – 11°F more. The effects can be dampened only if the pollution factor gets dropped to a minimum, this meaning the temperatures rise will only be about 4–6.5°F.
The U.S. Global Research Program (a consortium consisting of 13 federal department and agencies) released a reports that talk about the seriousness of climate changes and how they impact everyday life in the U.S. The general consensus is that if we act swiftly, cautiously and take all the necessary precautions, the impact of climate changes will be minimum on social life, the economy and the environment.
Here is what’s going on at the moment. And these changes will only continue to further throughout the continent, according to the Third National Climate Assessment Report.
The Northeast’s heat waves, heavy precipitations and the fast and constant rise of the sea level will end up in having severe consequences on every-day life. More and more cities in the danger zone have begun lately to consider the climate change effects as a serious problem, as they can heavily debilitate ecosystems, agriculture and even infrastructure.
In the Southeast there’s also talk and worry about the ever-rising sea level and the direct negative impact it could have on the local environment and economy. Extreme heat waves will engulf the area, affecting everything from agriculture to industry to personal health of the populous. Water reserves and availability will decrease, resulting in severe consequences.
The Southwest’s main reason of concern is the wildfires brought on by massive increases on heat and severe droughts. Insect outburst have also been recorded in several states in the region. The continuous erosion of the coastal area is bound to bring heavy flooding on the continent. Public health will be generally affected by the heat waves and the decline of the water supplies will affect crops and the ecosystem alike.
The Northwest will be subject to coastal erosion, sea level rise and flooding. Ocean acidity levels seem to have risen in the past years. Insect outbreaks have already been recorded and plant diseases seem to affect more and more trees. Dead trees, devoid of water and nutriments pose a great risk as they’re easily subject to wildfires.
The Midwest will be severely affect by extreme downpours. As a result of this, infrastructure, agriculture, transportation and general health will be severely affected. The heavy rains will alternate with waves of extreme heat. This alternation will have dire consequences on the ecosystems of the Great Lakes.
Impacts on public health
Extreme heat waves normally occur on the continent once every 20 years or so. But if the emission and atmospheric pollution levels are not reduced fast, we risk been subject to such heat waves every single year! The temperature won’t suffer only a change in occurrence, but also in intensity, as extreme temperatures can grow by a mind-blowing 10°F!
Those most susceptible and most vulnerable to such an impact are children, the elderly and the sick. Higher temperatures will create the conditions for rising levels of lung-damaging low-altitude ozone and respiratory allergies in urban areas.
The risk of ozone levels is imminent. Based on today’s levels of air pollution, scientist predict that by mid-century the number of Red Ozone Alert Days (when the air is unhealthy for everybody) will have increased by 68%. The most affected area will be the Eastern part of the country. In New Mexico the health costs from low-altitude ozone and heat weaves will total to a $1.6 billion by 2080.
The heat waves will rise and effect even the areas with poor history of such phenomena, like the Northeast (where there have never been recorded over 2 days in a row of +100°F or more than 20 days in a row of +90°F). Under a high emissions scenario (where air pollution levels haven’t decreased in the slightest) many urban regions in the area will be subject to over 60 days of +90°F by 2100 and 14 – 28 days of +100°F (in major cities la Philadelphia or New York). The Midwest faces even graver dangers due to high temperature rises, especially cities like Cleveland and San Diego.
The Southeast and Gulf states are also targeted by the upcoming heat waves. Miami will become hotter the Bangkok (considered to be the world’s hottest major city at the present) and in cities like Florida, the daily highs could exceed 90°F for more than half a year. In cities like Dallas, Houston and Tampa extreme heat claims on average 28 deaths per year. It takes only a moderate increase in temperature to increase this number to 60 – 75 deaths per year.
In major cities (like California) heat-related costs could grow by 2100 to about $14billion per year.
As general advice, try and keep away as much from the sun as possible. Drink plenty of fluids, make sure you stack up on water and wear sun-screen if you must go out on a hot day. Don’t over expose yourself to air-conditioning during hot weather, as sudden changes in temperature and humidity affect the respiratory system.