More on Climate Change

Part III– How does Climate Change Affect Daily Life?

Provided by the Fort Independence Environmental Climate Change Working Group

Chair: Dennis Mattinson



Food prices are rising as climate change makes it trickier to maintain the specific conditions crops need to thrive. As the climate warms, the air holds more moisture and rainstorms become more intense, damaging crops. Overall precipitation patterns are also changing, bringing droughts to some areas of the world and floods to others. A recent study published by Stanford University showed that global wheat production decreased by 5.5 percent as a result of an unstable climate, and world corn production was down by nearly 4 percent. So far, North American farmers haven’t seen the same drop in productivity, but that is expected to change. (See References 2) The EPA reports that an additional increase of 3.6 degrees F in the global temperature could decrease production of American corn by 10 to 30 percent. 1

Fresh Water

Fresh water is becoming scarcer in some regions. Many mountainous states rely on snowmelt to replenish their water sources, and snowpack is declining as well as melting earlier in the season. Severe droughts, increased evaporation and changes in precipitation patterns are impacting water levels in streams, rivers and lakes. Nearly 18 percent of the world’s fresh water is found in the Great Lakes, which supply drinking water to a large region. Scientists expect lake levels to drop as the climate continues to warm up. Lake Superior — the largest of the five Great Lakes — is 4.5 degrees F warmer than it was in 1980, and water levels in all of the Great Lakes have generally declined since 1986 (see References. 2

Coastline Damage

Rising ocean levels will cover some of the coastline used for recreation and human habitation. Sea ice is melting at an accelerated rate, according to the National Wildlife Federation. Arctic sea ice has shrunk by 30 percent since 1979. As it melts and ocean levels rise, coastlines and low-lying areas like New Orleans, Miami and New York are threatened. If the Earth’s climate warms by 2 or 3 more degrees by 2100, global sea level will rise 3 feet, displacing almost 56 million people around the world. 3


More wildfires are breaking out as droughts become increasingly common. Fires that go through drought-stricken land spread more quickly and burn longer, destroying forests and homes, public recreation spaces and grasslands. The University of Arizona reported that from 1987 to 2003, seven times more forested land burned in the western United states than during the preceding 17 years, and large fires were four times as frequent. (See Resources 1) The EPA predicts that if the earth warms another 3.6 degrees F, wildfires in that part of the country will burn four times more land than they currently do. 4


Energy plays an important role in many aspects of our lives. For example, we use electricity for lighting and cooling. We use fuel for transportation, heating, and cooking. Our energy production and use is interconnected with many other aspects of modern life, such as water consumption, use of goods and services, transportation, economic growth, land use, and population growth. Changes in temperature, precipitation, sea level, and the frequency and severity of extreme events will likely affect how much energy is produced, delivered, and consumed in the United States. Increases in temperature will likely change how much energy we consume, as well as our ability to produce electricity and deliver it reliably. A warmer climate may reduce the efficiency of power production for many existing fossil fuel and nuclear power plants because these plants use water for cooling. The colder the water, the more efficient the generator. Thus, higher air and water temperatures could reduce the efficiency with which these plants convert fuel into electricity. 5

Energy and water systems are connected. Energy is needed to pump, transport, and treat drinking water and wastewater. Cooling water is needed to run many of today’s power plants. Hydroelectricity (electricity produced by running water) is itself an important source of power in some parts of the United States. Rising temperatures, increased evaporation, and drought may increase the need for energy-intensive methods of providing drinking and irrigation water. For example, desalinization plants can convert salt water into freshwater, but consume a lot of energy. Climate change may also require irrigation water to be pumped over longer distances, particularly in dry regions across the western United States.6

More frequent and severe heat waves will likely increase the demand for electricity in the Southeast and Southwest. At the same time, these areas are likely to experience reduced water supplies due to decreased rain and/or increased temperature and evaporation. Since water is necessary for electricity production, these combined effects could stress water resources.

Our production and use of energy (most of which comes from fossil fuels) also contributes to climate change, accounting for more than 80% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. 7


2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

3. National Wildlife Federation

4. Stanford University

5. USGCRP (2009). Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.

6. CCSP (2007). Effects of Climate Change on Energy Production and Use in the United States.

7. EPA (2010). Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2008.

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24 Responses to More on Climate Change

  1. John July 19, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    There are a lot of comments here that don’t discuss the issue, but question the character of those who have a different opinion. There are several comments that are not supported by the available scientific data. When a person reads dozens of research papers and the credibility of the authors a different perspective can result.

    Using past “natural cycles” of the earth’s climate we should be headed into a cold period, but instead it is getting warmer. Since 1970 the average fire season has lengthened 78 days. Much of the problem of the insect mortality of large areas of forest is that winters are not as cold as they once were allowing many of these pests to survive winter and reproduce at greater rates than in colder winters.

    Many fields of science are showing large changes in the earth’s functioning. These fields included forestry, hydrology, wildlife biology, range management, entomology, geology, soil science and atmospheric science. A person should become familiar with some of that science before reaching conclusions. There is a huge effort by the fossil fuel industry to discredit science involving climate change and the amount of money being spent is troubling.

    I’m not taking a position on the issue as no one here knows what it is. I’m leaving that out as the issue itself is more important than the person presented information. If this issue is to be discussed it should be objective and based on credible science. Politics and the opinions and views of “pundits” should be disregarded. Ad hominem arguments never solve issues as they are meant to avoid real discussions of the issue.

  2. Lockem July 16, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

    These are all pretty well established parameters. To see the “sea ice” problem, float an ice cube in a measuring cup of water and observe the water level increase as the ice melts. You need to use a lot of ice to get a visible height change.

    The average temperature of the surface of the earth is about 515 degrees absolute on the Fahrenheit scale (absolute temps are called Rankine). Space is about 5 degrees Rankine. Most of the warmth on the surface of the comes from the sun and is held on the surface of the earth by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. A relatively tiny 1% increase in the heat retained by the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can be expected to cause most of a 5 degree F temperature rise. More than a 1% increase in greenhouse gases is required to yield a 1% increase in the retained heat, but it will still be a small value.

    With no atmosphere, only the faint radiant warmth from the ground keeps things from dropping to 5 degrees Rankine (-454F) on the side facing away from the sun. Clearly greenhouse gases are needed for the earth to be habitable, but a change in the level of greenhouse gases will change the weather. How good or bad such a change is depends on how and where you live.

    • lockem July 19, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      Posting a followup correction:
      When floating ice melts it does not change the height of water if the ice and water have the same composition. Sea ice has a different composition from sea water, so there is a corresponding sea height change if all of the ice were to melt, but the total change is extremely small (a few millimeters at most if all of the sea ice were to melt).

      However, sea level has risen several inches in recent times. Melting fresh ice in Greenland and Antarctica accounts for part of this, with changes in the density of water due to the change in water temperature accounting for the rest.

      • Big AL July 20, 2013 at 9:23 am #

        Have you taken into account … the changes of the tectonic plates, up heaving .. that might account for the change in sea level? Not disc’ing .. just adding some thought in a different area. The seamounts.

        • Ken Warner July 21, 2013 at 11:57 am #

          Just throwing random words together is not adding thought.

          Which tectonic plates? Where? How much? How fast? Which ones have subsided or moved which way?

          No credit for this one….

    • Ken Warner July 19, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      Right you are about the sea ice. But lots of ice is not on the sea and it’s that ice that will raise sea levels.

      And you can play number games with percentages to make things look less dire. But the responce of the climate to increasing greenhouse gases is not a linear responce. For example, if we stopped all anthropormorphic greenhouse gas emissions today, the existing levels of green house gases would stay the same for hundreds of years causing continued global warming and changes that will take another ice age to reverse.

      Once the Greenland ice sheet is melted, it’s not going to come back while humans walk the Earth. Maybe the next species of humans will see it — not homo sapiens.

    • John July 19, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

      Your discussion, although far more intelligent, reminds us of what Rush Limbaugh once said about sea level rise. He concluded that melting ice would not raise sea levels because when ice cubes melt in his cocktail glass at a party the drink doesn’t raise the level of the beverage. He failed to mention that the ice now sitting on the land of the Antarctic continent and Greenland is comparable to bringing ice from the freezer and adding it to his drink. Of course we know that the glass would overflow at that point depending on the amount of ice introduced.

      At that point the comparison of a glass, shaped like a tube, with the topography of seacoasts being far different, especially in areas like Florida. Florida has a huge amount of land that isn’t very high above the current mean sea level. In addition small increased in sea level result in large changes in storm surges. Recent hurricanes may indicate the process starting. Meanwhile their is no shortage of additional development on relatively flat beaches that are very vulnerable to storm surge damage. A lot of taxpayer money is being shelled out to repair these areas after these storms. Collective wisdom appears to be lacking

  3. salblaster July 16, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    some russian scientists are saying bring it on, they think a warmer climate will turn siberia into the bread basket of the east. i’m still trying to get how more watervapor in the atmosphere would lead to a drier earth with more drought and less fresh water.

    • Lockem July 16, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

      Just look at conditions over the oceans. The air is warm, the humidity is high and rain in most areas is rare.

    • J-Frog July 17, 2013 at 8:02 am #

      The Earth is so much bigger then what the human mind can grasp!
      Everything has to do with the way the earth redistributes the heat from the solar radiation of the sun, then throw in all the other driving forces of chemistry and physics in the mix…
      Again we humans are such a small force in the mix but yet have such a huge footprint..

      “Human Beings can not be separated from their environment, and in order to understand a Human being you have to understand their environment” -Dr. Gabor Mate-

    • Ken Warner July 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

      Russia, especially the northern parts would benefit. And that area probably would be the breadbasket of the whole world.

      Global warming is just the name of the effect that will cause Rapid Global Climate Change. That’s the way you have to look at what’s happening. The World’s climate is changing. Deserts like the SouthWest will expand. Drought areas will grow in some places and shrink in others. Sea levels will rise and form new islands and submerge others.

      It just will be different. And the changes will happen in generations instead of over hundreds and thousands of years like in the past.

      And with the huge populations and huge cities that will be forced to change and adapt and move in generations, there will be lots of conflict and turmoil. Someone mentioned the water wars of the future. They are no joke. The Colorado river is already tapped to the max. Arizona and California and Nevada all depend to some degree on it. What happens when there just is not enough for everybody? It’s no joke.

      • J-Frog July 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

        Hello! How the heck can you make a assumption on who will benefit from rapid change in ecology?? One thing we do know is human beings have never lived in a climate where CO2’s go over 400 parts per billion. We have yet to see the feedbacks of that..
        Your right it is no joke! throwing things away like they just disappear is no joke! Consuming products in cyclical fashion so corporations can keep profits is no joke! Wasting water and not understanding the energy to keep this convenient lifestyle is no joke! Doing nothing or very little about a obvious problem is no joke! Having to deal with fundamental old timers who can’t admit to being wrong is no joke! not coming to consensus on having a problem is no joke! Your right this isn’t a joke but as many times I hear the words “I won’t be around to have to deal with that” statement makes my blood boil, to them it is a joke! It ain’t no JOKE!

        • Ken Warner July 19, 2013 at 9:34 am #

          Good words about recycling. There could be lots of improvement in the way we do things there.

          It wasn’t too long ago when mention of Global Warming would bring the same sort of hotile dismissal and insults as telling smokers they shouldn’t smoke. At least we are making progress in understanding.

          As for predicting global trends — you are right. Can’t say for sure what will happen but some trends are already well indicated. North and South Poles will warm and lose ice.. The frozen tundra will likely melt opening huge tracks of land for purposes like farming and mass settlement. Deserts are growing. Those can reverse but those trends look pretty well established. But truely, nobody knows. Which will make adapting to our changing climate even more difficult.

          But I won’t be here — and that’s a FACT!

          • J-Frog July 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

            Thanks for not taking my somewhat aggression the wrong way, I just feel strong about some issues, Climate Change is one of them and of course Hemp legalization is another since they are intertwined on a couple of levels.
            Yeah the propaganda behind how it was portrayed (global warming) on both sides was so convoluted with hidden agendas, the reality of the situation didn’t seem apparent I guess?
            But honestly I feel MotherEarth has the capability to overcome anything among its own realm, It just depends whether we align with Natures natural order of laws in time to make through the feedback’s of the prior activity that we turn a blind eye too, so I feel we do have a chance still, but we can’t sit on our hands… Just throwing a lil optimism in a “doom and gloom” type situation.

          • John July 19, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

            The melting of what has been mostly frozen and frozen over centuries (permafrost) will release a significant amount of additional CO2. This results in what is called a “positive feedback loop.” These effects, such as the increased warming of the ocean and melting of the ice pack caused by the additional area of water that absorb more energy from the sun due to the surface changing from white (reflects sunlight) to open water with a darker color (absorb energy). These loops accelerate the melting, which in turn accelerate the melting, which then . . . . This is one factor in why the sea ice is melting at a higher rate than early estimates indicated.

            The carbon in permafrost and tundra being warmed is likely another positive feedback loop. Some predictions as to agriculture in some areas benefiting may not come to pass.

  4. Trouble July 15, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    The good news is I’ll be long gone before we all start real water wars. Tell then, DWP will continue to screw with us!

  5. johnjcampnfish July 15, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    “Sea ice is melting at an accelerated rate, according to the National Wildlife Federation. Arctic sea ice has shrunk by 30 percent since 1979. As it melts and ocean levels rise, coastlines and low-lying areas like New Orleans, Miami and New York are threatened. If the Earth’s climate warms by 2 or 3 more degrees by 2100, global sea level will rise 3 feet, displacing almost 56 million people around the world.”

    Call me a flat earther, but I don’t think that melting sea ice will cause ocean levels to rise. But of course I’m not a scientist and an overwhelming majority of those geniuses agree that this stuff is real. Maybe one of these climate experts could come down to my local tavern and watch a high ball glass full to the rim of scotch and water on the rocks till the rocks are all melted and see how much it overflows.

    • J-Frog July 16, 2013 at 10:07 am #

      It seems to me it’s more then a comparison to scotch on the rocks, for what is melting is not already in the seas, we are talking polar icecaps, glaciers and other water sources above sea level relocating in the sea…I’ll be first to say I’m no expert either.. But your reference does make a lil sense because water does expand a lil when frozen, so when it melts back in the form of water it shrinks back to the original surface area, but then again glacier ice is a different kind of ice, heck I don’t know now I’m confused… I’m leaving to the experts..

      • Desert Tortoise July 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

        The ice in Greenland and in Antarctica is mostly on what would be dry land if all that ice were to melt. In fact in the case of Greenland it is calculated that the landmass of Greenland would actually rise slightly if the weight of ice is removed. The amount of fresh water trapped in ice above sea level is staggering actually.

    • Bemused July 16, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      You’re a flat earther alright…

  6. Al Gore July 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Al Gore…. how did you make your way onto this Blog?

    • From their guru July 16, 2013 at 10:49 am #

      A fact you never hear the environmentalist wacko crowd
      acknowledge is that 96 percent of the so-called
      ‘greenhouse’ gases are not created by man, but by nature.”
      – anti-environment conservative guru, Rush Limbaugh

      This is an obvious straw man set up by Limbaugh. It is true that the
      greenhouse effect is, by and large, a natural phenomenon, produced
      by gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide and
      water vapor that have warmed the Earth for eons, making its
      climate moderate enough to support life as we know it. Without
      these gases, Earth would be forty to sixty degrees colder,
      essentially a frigid desert.

      • Big Oil Al Gore July 16, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

        Hey Dr….. Pull my finger….. I have some more Global Warming to release….. You know I made my millions by selling my TV Station to Big Oil and my biggest con of all was making millions of dollars by tricking people to but into Carbon Credits just so I can fly around in my BIG PERSONAL OIL GUZZLING JET.

      • John July 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

        Your statement that “It is true that the greenhouse effect is, by and large, a natural phenomenon” is somewhat true, but does not account for the amount of CO2 increasing in the atmosphere and the amount being released by human sources. It is a myth that volcanoes and other natural sources of CO2 are greater than our burning of fossil fuels. I’m not taking a position on the entire issue, but we need to discuss it based on credible scientific information. The relationship of volcanoes and human sources of CO2 is easily available from the USGS website.


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