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 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
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.
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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,… Read more »
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.
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….
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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.
Just look at conditions over the oceans. The air is warm, the humidity is high and rain in most areas is rare.
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… Read more »
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.… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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!
“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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
You’re a flat earther alright…
Al Gore…. how did you make your way onto this Blog?
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »