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  • Keep our Planet Green

    Climate Catastrophe? Here's What the U.S. Will Look Like in 2100

    We can still turn it around, but here is the world our grandchildren will live in if we don't. By Jean Weiss






    Scientists say the answer is "yes." We are now experiencing the effects of human-caused climate change and, even if we drastically alter our polluting behavior today, we'll continue to see changes over the next two to three decades. This change is irreversible, and researchers predict it may be worse than the depressing situation Al Gore foretold in "An Inconvenient Truth."

    "What happens in the next 20 or 30 years is largely already determined." says Kevin Tranberth, ScD, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). "Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have already increased by more than 35 percent since pre-industrial times, owing to human activities. Over half of that increase has occurred since 1970."

    Although this prognosis seems dire, there is hope. While we can't change the polluting that has already occurred, we can make changes now that will leave a cleaner world for our children and grandchildren. "One important message to convey is we can very much affect what happens 90 years from now by the decisions we make today," says Jim Hurrell, PhD, a senior atmospheric scientist with NCAR. Tranberth agrees. "If we act now, the benefit comes about 30 to 40 years from now," he says. "We can still have a big impact on what happens in the second half of this century."

    But what happens if we don't act now? Here is how your part of the United States could be affected in the year 2100 if we don't turn this around.


    Pacific Northwest: Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska


    What we could see in 2100: Heavier rains, dramatic warming over higher latitudes and sea-level rise

    Climate changes in the Northwestern states as a result of global warming will include heavier rainfall and higher temperatures in cities like Seattle and Portland. The slow steady drizzle so familiar to Northwest residents will change. "Precipitation trends have shown daily rainfall events have become heavier," says Martin Hoerling, PhD, a meteorologist with NOAA Earth System Research Lab. And, he says, that trend is likely to continue. Trenberth says to also expect more intense rainfall, a shorter snow season, earlier snow melt and runoff, followed by water shortages come summer. These changes in river flows could affect salmon and other species.

    These same states will experience much higher temperatures, especially in the summer. "By 2100 there will be very dramatic warming over the higher latitudes of both hemispheres," says Hurrell. Studies on temperature changes that have already occurred show that Alaska has experienced a 3.6 degree Fahrenheit increase since 1951 and western states in the U.S. are experiencing warmer summer temperatures. "In the summer time, the greatest warming in the U.S. has been occurring in the West," says Hoerling. "That would be in Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, California and Nevada."

    One of the fallouts of this trend is increased air pollution. "Higher temperatures are likely to mean higher concentrations of soft ground-level ozone smog," says Kim Knowlton, DrPH, Senior Scientist in the Health and Environment Program with the Natural Resources Defense Council. And higher temperatures over long periods of time can intensify heat waves that create a threat to public health.

    The Northwest will also be affected by the anticipated two to three feet of sea level rise, though cities like Portland and Seattle will suffer less than coastal cities in the Southwest and Southeast. "The sea level rise will be global, but it becomes a problem when three things come together," says Trenberth. "High tides, a higher sea level, and a storm surge. The worst storm surges are associated with hurricanes. You don't get hurricanes in the Northwest, so the Northwest is not as vulnerable as the Southeast in that regard."

    Alaska, on the other hand, will be affected more similarly to the Polar Regions in Northern Canada than to the Northwest. The increase in temperature in Alaska will melt permafrost, ice and snow cover on landmasses, creating swampland and an outgassing of methane that will impact plant and wildlife. Bug populations will increase, says Trenberth, along with diseases that are normally kept at bay by cold winters.


    Rocky Mountains: Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Montana


    What we could see in 2100: Shorter snow season, early snowmelt, drought, wildfire and water issues

    Scientists predict that by 2100 increasingly early snowmelts will put a strain on water supplies in Denver, Salt Lake City and other communities fed by Rocky Mountain rivers. Winter snowpack is a vital part of life in the Mountain West, says Trenberth. "Snow piles up in the winter, melts in late spring and summer, and rivers flow, providing water everywhere." But global warming is changing all that. "In the future, the snow season will get shorter, the snow pack will be less, and runoff could easily occur a month or two earlier," says Trenberth. "Instead of having peak runoff in June, it could happen in April. Then, by the time you get to June, [the entire region] is a lot drier" [than it is now]. The ski industry, now a main source of revenue for Rocky Mountain ski towns, will no doubt be put on notice, as will states downstream from the mountains. Less water in the Southwest will lead to drought conditions, more wildfires and stressed fish and other aquatic species, says Hoerling.

    An earlier spring disrupts natural systems in ways that lead to human health issues, says Knowlton. Trees and plants leaf out earlier, the pollen-producing season lasts longer and higher aeroallergen concentrations exacerbate asthma and allergies. Some plants, like poison ivy, become more toxic when there are higher levels of Co2. A longer summer and short winter also allow insects like the pine bark beetle to thrive, threatening the health of trees and contributing to the risk of forest fires.



    Northeast: Virginia to Maine


    What we could see in 2100: Harsher storms, extreme sea level rise and flooding

    The Northeastern U.S. will experience rising temperatures and harsher but less frequent storms if global warming remains unchecked, and will be more vulnerable to sea level rise and flooding than other coastal areas around the country.

    The largest metropolitan areas along the seaboard are especially at risk for stronger storms and flooding. "Models suggest that in the future the normal weather patterns that we now have will shift north," says Trenberth. This could extend the risk of hurricanes, though they would be rare, from southern cities such as New Orleans and coastal areas in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas to cities as far north as New York and Boston.

    East Coast cities will also be more affected by sea level rise than other areas of the U.S. "Today's coastal areas will be very different by the end of this century if we do nothing," says Hurrell. "On average, global sea levels will go up two to three feet." But scientists expect that in some coastal cities, such as Boston and New York, complex ocean currents that will change as our climate changes will add an extra 8 inches to that increase in water level. Rising sea levels could flood subways and underground sewage and transportation systems if left unchecked. Or, these cities could become similar to New Orleans, in that they'd need to build infrastructure like levees to protect them from rising sea levels.

    An increase in the number of extreme storms would cause public health issues by creating a higher risk of waterborne illnesses such as cryptosporidiosis and giardia, says Knowlton. Add increased temperatures to the mix and the future just gets darker. Some estimates suggest that at our current rate of climate change, temperature in the Northeast will increase as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit by century's end. That will make the public health risks during heat waves immeasurably worse than they already are today.


    Southeast: The Gulf Coast states, extending up to Carolina


    What we could see in 2100: Hurricanes, wind damage, storm surges, flooding, extra sea level rise



    While temperature increase will be less dramatic, effects from sea level rise will be more so. "There are two major factors in terms of sea level rise," says Hurrell. "The first is that as the oceans warm, the water expands as it warms. This is called thermal expansion. The second is that more fresh water will be added to the oceans." Hurrell says that coastal areas in the Southeast will be under water, to the tune of two to three feet, unless we build levees and other systems to adapt to rising sea levels. Because of the same sea current patterns that will create more flooding in Northeastern states, Southeastern cities such as Miami can expect about 2 inches of flooding above the anticipated average global sea rise.

    The Southeast can also expect more extreme hurricanes, similar to the conditions that came together around Hurricane Katrina. "There are three main risks," says Trenberth. "There is risk for increased wind damage, risk for a storm surge, which is very coastal and exacerbated by higher sea levels, and then a bit further inland, there is an increased risk of flooding from torrential rains."

    Waterborne diseases such as cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis are more likely to fester in a flood zone and will create additional risk to public health, says Knowlton.


    The Northern Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes


    What we could see in 2100: Stronger storms (tornados, heavy rains) occurring throughout the year and warmer winters

    Scientists predict that the Northern Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes areas will experience stronger storms, longer storm seasons and an increase in temperatures. "The greatest warming in the winters in the U.S. has been happening over the Northern Plains, the Dakota territories and the Northern Great Lakes," says Hoerling. Some estimates predict temperature changes as high as 5 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, and 5 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit in summer by 2100.

    Warmer winters can lead to an increase in infectious diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus and dengue fever, says Knowlton, as warmer winter weather allows insect populations to remain active longer each year.

    An extended summer will translate to a longer growing season, but also to an increased risk of drought and extreme heat. That heat will create evaporation that will lower water levels, especially in the Great Lakes.

    While there will be little change in overall average precipitation, this region will experience longer storm seasons. "The main storms in tornado alley, states such as Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, typically occur in the spring, but more evidence shows that some of these storms may now occur in winter," says Trenberth. And "more messy episodes of freezing rain may occur in mid-winter instead of snow."


    Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico, California and Nevada


    What we could see in 2100: Drought and water shortages, heat waves and wildfire

    The Southwestern states, which in the global warming equation include California and Nevada, will experience intense heat waves, poorer air quality, wildfire, water shortages, drought and expanding risks to agriculture. "In general, the main worry in the Southwest is water resources," says Trenberth. "The area is already semi-arid. Water is already a scarce resource what with increasing population demands. These areas are already quite dependent on water flowing from the mountains, so any changes in snow pack ultimately affects the flows in the Colorado River basin and water sources in places like California."

    Dry conditions and high temperatures will increase risk for heat waves and wildfires, says Trenberth. "Along with that come issues with insects and diseases. Some insects, such as the Pine Bark Beetle, flourish with a longer summer season, and the dead trees they create lead to higher wildfire risk.

    And then there are the water issues. "The increased heating of the earth's surface not only raises temperatures, but it increases evaporation which makes dry soils even drier," says Hurrell. "Droughts will become more severe, frequent and longer lasting."

    "We're already seeing the impacts of climate change on public health," says Knowlton. "Heat waves are just one example. They send thousands of extra people to emergency rooms and hospitals, as our study of the 2006 California heat wave showed." Knowlton says that during that particular episode more than 16,000 excess emergency room visits and 1,200 additional hospitalizations happened in a 2-week period, costing the state of California $133 million.

    California will also see a two- to three-foot rise in sea level, while San Francisco will see slightly more than that.

    Jean Weiss is a regular contributor to MSN Green.


  • #2
    Re: Keep our Planet Green

    What we could see in 2100.

    Answer: Nothing, we'll all be dead.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Keep our Planet Green

      Originally posted by aashee View Post
      What we could see in 2100.

      Answer: Nothing, we'll all be dead.
      :lmao:

      Orlando doing good
      http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=9a0_1212091354&p=1

      www.Myspace.com/butterflytat20
      Princess of Randomness

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Keep our Planet Green

        Good article. It's one of my goals in life to at least try and have an impact in this area by getting people to learn and change their actions (I'm minoring in environmental ecology). Unfortunately it's not easy, most people are too focused on themselves to care.
        Last trip to Disneyland: 04/06/09
        Next trip to Disneyland: 04/23/09
        Visits in 2009: 13
        Last trip to DisneyWorld: 01/04/09-01/09/09
        Next trip to DisneyWorld: ?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Keep our Planet Green

          nice article.. thanks for the share...
          thanE

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Keep our Planet Green

            Originally posted by aashee View Post
            What we could see in 2100.

            Answer: Nothing, we'll all be dead.
            haha. I know.

            It's just interesting what people have to say.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Keep our Planet Green

              Originally posted by Kritter View Post
              haha. I know.

              It's just interesting what people have to say.
              It would have been more effective saying "What you grandchildren will have to deal with". My cold dead body in the ground won't care much about the sea levels rising.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Keep our Planet Green

                yeah Jean Weiss!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Keep our Planet Green

                  I'd be a hundred and ten in 2100....I don't plan to live that long to see what happens.

                  Nice article though. Thanks.
                  "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." -Henry David Thoreau

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Keep our Planet Green

                    We had a really warm winter in Kansas. IT'S ALREADY HAPPENING! (lolol)

                    Sucks for our kids/grandkids/etc!

                    sigpic

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Keep our Planet Green

                      31,000 scientists reject 'global warming' agenda

                      Global Warming: The Origin and Nature of the Alleged Scientific Consensus

                      Global warming and natural climate change in the past

                      [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fP2ygTPIDiQ&feature=related]YouTube - 60 Minutes - Climate Change Debate Part II[/ame]

                      I'm not a believer in global warming, and even if it is global warming, I don't believe there is anything we as individuals can do about it.
                      I just don't see how we by recycling plastic bags or cans can make even a dint when there are so many planes taking off every MINUTE, the forces are "testing" their weapons, the war in iraq, power plants... We had a oil spill from a ship here just last month, and it lost 31 containers of ammonium nitrate in the sea, those LARGE SHIPPING containers
                      Queensland oil leak covers 10km of ocean near Caloundra | Herald Sun

                      Besides, it's not even an issue when the world is ending in less than two years!!

                      December 21 2012, The official Website for 122112 Information

                      7 reasons the world will end in 2012


                      Originally Posted by Disney Wrassler
                      Tassie, I found a quote for ya :lol:!

                      "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia."

                      Charles M. Schulz
                      Originally Posted by MWalton
                      :lol: Did the pages take that long to reach around to your part of the world?!? :lol:

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Keep our Planet Green

                        Pretty soon, we might be eating this:



                        "Mmmmmm, Soylent Green." -Homer Simpson

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Keep our Planet Green

                          Originally posted by Barbossa View Post
                          Pretty soon, we might be eating this:




                          "Mmmmmm, Soylent Green." -Homer Simpson
                          :lol::lol::lol:

                          but the world is ending in TWO YEARS!!!:lol:

                          OK, had to edit. At first I just read "soylent green" which I know what that is, but then I read the can!! That's not soylent green!!! soylent green is PEOPLE!!

                          [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Sp-VFBbjpE"]YouTube - IT'S PEOPLE![/ame]


                          Originally Posted by Disney Wrassler
                          Tassie, I found a quote for ya :lol:!

                          "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia."

                          Charles M. Schulz
                          Originally Posted by MWalton
                          :lol: Did the pages take that long to reach around to your part of the world?!? :lol:

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Keep our Planet Green

                            Originally posted by tassie View Post
                            :lol::lol::lol:

                            but the world is ending in TWO YEARS!!!:lol:

                            OK, had to edit. At first I just read "soylent green" which I know what that is, but then I read the can!! That's not soylent green!!! soylent green is PEOPLE!!
                            Don't forget, the Soylent company told everyone it was made out of plankton and didn't tell anyone about the special ingredient, thus that is the correct prop label. They say it tastes just like chicken.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Keep our Planet Green

                              LOL LOL LOL Doesn't everything??


                              Originally Posted by Disney Wrassler
                              Tassie, I found a quote for ya :lol:!

                              "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia."

                              Charles M. Schulz
                              Originally Posted by MWalton
                              :lol: Did the pages take that long to reach around to your part of the world?!? :lol:

                              Comment

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