Climate change is reshaping the world we live in. But has it started impacting you directly and personally, where you live?
As the average temperature rises across the globe, the increased temperatures are setting off a number of environmental changes.
One example is sea level rise. As temperatures warm, the ice at the polar caps are melting, which is causing sea levels to rise. This, in turn, threatens coastal cities with flooding.
Storms are also getting more numerous, and more extreme. Changing weather patterns lead to events like the wildfires of California, or even the current freeze in Texas. Flooding is more common, as are droughts (and, really, all weather extremes).
In addition, there are more subtle impacts. As natural habitats for wildlife are threatened (by the flooding, wildfires, droughts, and so on) there are more chances for interaction of wild animals and humans. Or more endangered species.
There are a myriad of ways climate change is manifesting in the world today. Do any of them directly touch your life? How is climate change impacting you?
Related questions: What is keeping us from sustaining the planet? What is the greatest problem facing humanity? How can we turn sadness into constructive action? What do we do about plastic?
3 thoughts on “How Is Climate Change Impacting You?”
As the question and context make clear, climate change is having a devastating impact on many communities. In fact, while some coastal cities must deal with more flooding, I remember an NPR story about an island nation soon to be taken over by the sea was imploring climate accord negotiators to propose measures more significant than the Paris Agreement.
My observations about how climate change is impacting me pale in comparison. Still, I do think people need to begin identifying how they are being impacted directly so they will see why mitigating actions are an absolute necessity. So, here are four ways I feel climate change affecting me now:
1. As Minnesota heats up and the growing season lengthens, that adds to the number of days I get to experience seasonal allergies. For example, the ragweed season is 21 days longer than it was in 1995! My lungs and sinuses are not happy.
2. As a gardener, I often love when it rains. That means I need to spend less time watering my veggies and flowers. But more rainfalls have become violent rainstorms, threatening my garden’s very existence.
3. Rebecca and I love to travel. At one point, we thought about returning to the California coast as an autumn destination. But then wildfires created a path of destruction along a good portion of where we had hoped to go — and they were taking place at the same time of year we hope to take our trip. So, California got demoted as a destination.
4. I hate the cold. The term Polar Vortex is permanently affixed to Minnesota’s lexicon. ’Nuff said!
I live near Boston, just a few hundred feet away from a stream that drains into the ocean. We are not very far above sea level. While we have not had any flooding yet, our property was recently upgraded into a high-risk flood zone, and flood insurance prices — flood insurance which we are required to have — have correspondingly gone up. Future projections of what things will be like in 2050 and beyond do not look great.
But, other than the higher insurance premiums, we haven’t been impacted directly yet. And luckily, in Boston we haven’t seen any hurricanes, wildfires, or any of the many environmental problems associated with the changing climate. While we did have a record amount of snowfall back in the winter of 2014-2015, it’s not clear that that was as a result of climate change (but then again, it’s difficult to definitively show any particular storm, drought, flood, or any extreme weather event is a direct result).
However, I would be remiss if I did not mention the pandemic, which is impacting the entire world. While, like weather events, it is impossible to lay the responsibility for the pandemic directly at the feet of climate change, it is true that as natural habitats shrink, people and animals will be forced together more and more, increasing the likelihood of diseases making the jump from animals to humans, as it is theorized happened with COVID-19.
Here, wildfires are becoming more common and more dangerous. 25 years ago we had only a few small wildfires, mainly east of the mountains, each year. Now, we have dozens of wildfires that burn tens of thousands of acres every year. Last year, for the first time ever, fires burned within 5 miles of my area. This in what has traditionally been a cool, maritime climate.
When I got married in 1998, the lilacs bloomed around mother’s day. Now they bloom at the end of April. We’ve bumped up an entire hardiness zone (average minimum low temperature), since then, and I’ve noticed that our heat zone (average number of heat days) is creeping up too. While I’m happy to have the opportunity to grow more varieties of plants, I worry that the native plants and animals will be pushed out by non natives that are moving north.
We are seeing wetter winters and drier summers. In the last several years, we have broken several monthly rain total records and gone longer in the summer months without rain.