Sobering, even scary stuff.
Thirteen federal agencies have spent the last year and a half working on a consensus on how global warming is, and will affect the United States, and how it's playing out in regions around the nation. A report is out that John Holdren, President Obama's science adviser, said is the “most up-to-date, authoritative, and comprehensive” analysis of the impacts of human-caused global warming on the United States.
I took a look at the report with an eye on what it foretells about Western New York.
Most striking is how fast the temperature is going up.
Worldwide, the average temperature is up 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900. Here in the Northeast, it's risen 2 degrees since 1970. In the winter, it's gone up 4 degrees.
Put another way, global warming is already coming home to roost in our neck of the woods with more of a vengeance than some other parts of the US of A. For once we're ahead of the curve, and, as our luck would have it, this is one instance where we're better off being behind the eight ball.
The consequences of these rising temperatures include more extreme weather, in the form of very hot summer days and heavy downpours. In fact, "very heavy precipitation," as the report calls it, has increased more dramatically in the Northeast than any section of the country in the past 50 years.
A continuation of rising temperatures would result in our region being less hospitable to some forms of agriculture, although it will extend the growing season. It won't be good for cows producing milk, fruit trees and, well forget about locally produced maple syrup.
We'll get less snow, which some might cheer, but not those who ski. Better make plans for a trip out West, although things will be tougher there, too. Better to try farther north. I wonder if they have any ski slopes along, say, James Bay.
The warmer temperature also will hurt air quality, especially in populated areas.
How does that play out?
Well, in Chicago, for example, heat waves killed 100-plus people a year back when Jimmy Carter was president. By 2055, well within the lifetimes of many of you readers, more-frequent, intense heatwaves are projected to kill 375 to 700 a year, depending on just how much many more emissions we pollute our environment with.
Hartford, whose climate isn't that much different than ours, would see the temperature top 100 degrees about 30 days a year.
Another thing that jumped out at me was the impact on water supplies. We'll experience higher temps, more people living in hot, dry places like the Southwest, and growing demands for electricity that will need water for its production.
Hmmm, let's see, whose got water?
Why, we people around the Great Lakes.
Who's gonna want it?
Sounds like we might have an H20 version of a food fight in our future.
This report is pretty readable and digestible as these things go. Here are some links worth checking out: