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How does climate change affect the United States? by City Tech Blogger Dung Mai

The global change in climate has had enormous observable effects on the environment. Research shows that human influence is the main cause of climate change dating back to the mid-20th century (Wuebbles et. al. 3). Humans have been involved in climate change through the burning of fossils fuels and industrial activities which lead to the emission of greenhouse gases. Such activities have led to observable effects like sea ice shrinking, ocean acidification and a rise in temperatures among others (Wuebbles et al. 3-5). In the United States, climate change has led to reduced agricultural yields and lack of energy for industrial production, tourism limitation, destruction of geographical regions and increased heat stress for city dwellers and the poor.

The United States currently experiences a reduced supply of water for agricultural activities and energy production. In Northwest, for instance, where a great amount of water is stored in mountains’ winter snowpacks, warmer springs motivate earlier melting (EPA 2-4). Due to this, the region experiences unreliability in water supply for agricultural activities leading to reduced yields. Early melting of the snowpacks leads to increased stream-flows during early spring and late spring (EPA 4-5). As a result, water amount in streams and rivers is reduced during periods when rainfall is little, and this leads to poor production in industries due to lack of enough energy. The water supply for irrigation also reduces greatly leading to reduced agricultural yields. Therefore, climate change affects the industry and agriculture sectors in the US by reducing the water supply needed for energy production and irrigation.

Ideally, the US tourism sector has become limited, and the revenue from it reduced. For example, the temperature increase due to climate change has led to the reduction of snow cover and also the shortening of the winter snow periods altering and limiting snow sports (EPA 6). The sports such as skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and fishing are significant tourist attractions. The ice and snow activities generate about $7.6 billion for the Northeast economy in the US, but this has been reducing annually (EPA 7). The reduction is blamed on the increased temperatures. The tourism sector in the US has thus become limited, and the revenue from it reduced due to climate changes.

In addition, the change in climate has led to the destruction of physical features in the different geographical regions of the United States. In the Northwest region, the snowpack on the Cascade Mountains has been discovered to have reduced by close to 20% from the 1950s (EPA 9). The reduction is as a result of increased temperatures witnessed in the United States and all over the world.  In Alaska, the lakes are shrinking in the area they cover especially in the southern part due to increased evaporation and permafrost that makes lakes drain fast (EPA 4). If the changes in climate witnessed today like increased temperatures, then such physical features may be significantly destroyed. The climate thus has destroyed physical features such as lakes in Alaska and snowpacks in the Northwest geographical regions.

Moreover, the change in climate has lowered the economy and destroyed the infrastructure in the different geographical regions of the US. Increased permafrost thaw that disrupts thaw-freeze cycles increasing subsidence and frost heaves has been identified to destroy infrastructure (EPA 1). The expenditure on infrastructure maintenance has been raised in Alaska due to the increased incidence of destruction. In the US Islands, the leisure, economic activities, and infrastructure are vulnerable to impacts of climate change such as coastal inundation, flooding, and the rise of sea level (EPA 1). Most of the infrastructure is concentrated on the coastal regions of the Islands making them easy to be destroyed. When the climatic impacts occur, leisure and economic activities are altered which in turn lowers the economy.

The heat wave due to climate change threatens the poor and city dwellers. It is reported that 65% of the people dwelling in the city are exposed to greater warming compared to other people (Singer 2). For this reason, such people are stressed by the heating with air conditioning facilities making matters worse. For instance, the decreasing stream flows in the Northwest reduce the supply of hydroelectric power making it difficult to meet the increasing air conditioning demand (EPA 1). Therefore, the city dwellers end up being exposed to too much warming. The poor, on the other hand, may not afford air conditioning and just like the city dwellers, they are under intense heat stress. Humans cannot handle certain levels of heat especially when there are no cooling facilities (Singer 4). The poor especially may end up developing heat-related health conditions.

In short, the change in climate has had great observable effects on the environment globally. In the United States, the climate change has contributed to the reduction of energy production for industries, decreased agricultural yields and the revenue collected on tourist activities due to its limitation of the sports in the sector. Ideally, has led to the destruction of physical features like snowpacks, promoted decline of the economy and damage of infrastructure in the US’s geographical regions.  Moreover, it exposes the city dwellers and the poor to heat stress. Therefore, everyone needs to prevent and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and to conserve the environment to mitigate climate change.

 

Reference

https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-impacts_.html

https://theconversation.com/heat-waves-threaten-city-dwellers-especially-minorities-and-the-poor-81738

https://eos.org/features/how-will-climate-change-affect-the-united-states-in-decades-to-come

 

Photo

http://eco18.com/10-ways-climate-change-is-effecting-our-lives/

 

Comment on this article

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One Response

  1. According to a report by the National Climate Change Group, climate change will cost the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of this century.
    The report was commissioned by more than 10 U.S government agencies that have analyzed the impact of climate change on every aspect of American society as follows:

    Climate change affects the economy
    As temperature rises, sea level rises, and extreme weather events can destroy important US infrastructure. Climate change will have a direct and significant impact on industries dependent on natural resources such as agriculture, tourism and fisheries. In addition, it also reduces the ability to generate electricity, but the demand for energy is on the rise will lead to much higher electricity costs.

    Climate change affects health
    Climate change causes more severe weather to cause forest fires and ozone pollution. This will directly affect people’s health such as allergies, asthma and influenza.
    Climate change is also expected to alter the distribution of insect species and pests that carry infectious diseases such as Zika, West Nile and dengue. Accordingly, the most susceptible targets will be elderly, children, low income citizens.

    Climate change affects infrastructure
    Climate change and extreme weather will also affect US energy and transportation systems such as continued power outages, fuel shortages and other critical service disruptions.
    Climate change is also causing sea levels to rise, threatening US coastal assets, and degraded infrastructure in the northeast will face difficulties in dealing with floods. Particularly, heavy rainfall will also increase in the country causing difficulties to road traffic, and pipeline system. According to the report, climate change increases the risk of drought leading to the threatening of oil and gas drilling.

    Climate change affects agriculture and water
    In general, yields from major US crops are expected to decline due to rising temperatures which are possible for changes in water supplies, diseases and pests. The increase in temperature during the growing season in the Midwest will be the biggest contributor to the U.S agricultural productivity. Nonetheless, reliable and safe water supplies for the Caribbean, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands are threatened by droughts, floods and salinity intrusion due to sea level to rise.
    On the other hand, Donald Trump expressed doubts about the information mentioned in a recent US government report that warns about the devastating consequences of climate change for the United States. The U.S president also said the United States would not take any action to cut emissions unless other countries also acted. He also emphasized that the United States is in the cleanest atmosphere ever and this is the most important thing for him. Furthermore, Trump decided to withdraw the U.S from the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
    On November 23, National Climate Assessment was published by the United States Global Transformation Research Program. It highlighted that with the rate of growth going up historically, annual losses in some economic sectors are expected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of this century. In addition, to predict the impact on the US economy, the report also said that climate change would undermine human health, damage infrastructure, limit water availability, and change Coastline and rising costs in many different industries. The report was approved by the US Congress. It is intended to inform the situation to policy makers. However, the Congress does not yet provide any specific recommendations on what action to take.

    References:
    https://insideclimatenews.org/news/23112018/infographic-national-climate-assessment-us-economy-extreme-weather-global-warming-cost-lives-wildfires-agriculture-federal-report
    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/23/us-report-says-climate-change-will-batter-economy-in-clash-with-trump.html
    https://globalnews.ca/news/4693044/climate-change-will-cost-the-u-s-economy-billions-report-contradicting-trump-says/
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-climate-change_us_5bfc516be4b0eb6d93128997

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