Climate change is real, and it's happening faster than anyone predicted. There's no arguing that extreme weather is becoming more severe and more frequent- from Hurricane Sandy that struck the Northeast to the arctic blast that rattled Georgia to the drought that's running it's course in California.
In it's effort to understand the reality of climate change, the US government created the US Global Change Research Program, which recently released the Third National Climate Assessment. The National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC) oversaw the development of the report, which was created by over 250 authors. The report outlines the current changes that are happening across the US due to climate change. You can find the full report here: http://www.globalchange.gov/ncad
Here's a synopsis of what's in the report, courtesy of the science blog iflscience.com
Temperature: U.S. average has increased by 1.3 to 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit since record keeping began in 1895, and it’s expected to rise. Most of that increase starting around 1970, with the most recent decade being the warmest on record. With human-induced warming superimposed on natural climate variations, the rise hasn’t been (and won’t be) uniform or smooth across the country or over time.
Extreme Weather: Heat waves and droughts have become more frequent and intense (especially in the west), while cold waves have become less frequent and intense across the country.
Hurricanes: The intensity, frequency, and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the frequency of the strongest (category 4 and 5) hurricanes, have all increased since the early 1980s. Associated storm intensity and rainfall rates are projected to increase as well.
Severe Storms: Winter storms have increased in frequency and intensity since the 1950s, and their tracks have shifted northward over the U.S. Intensity and frequency of tornadoes, hail, and thunderstorm winds are uncertain.
Precipitation: Average precipitation has increased since 1900, with a lot of regional variation above and below the average. More winter and spring precipitation is projected for the northern U.S. and less for the southwest.
Heavy Downpours: These have increased nationally, with the largest increases in the midwest and northeast, especially over the last three to five decades. We'll be seeing Increases in the frequency and intensity for all regions.
Frost-free Season: Their lengths have increased nationally since the 1980s, especially in the west. Growing season will continue to lengthen.
Ice Melt: Rising temperatures are reducing ice volume and surface extent on land, lakes, and sea, and the loss is expected to continue. The Arctic Ocean is expected to become essentially ice free during the summer before mid-century.
Sea Level: The global level has risen by about 8 inches since 1880, when record keeping began. It’s projected to rise another 1 to 4 feet by 2100.
Ocean Acidification: The oceans are absorbing about a quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere every year, and they're becoming more acidic as a result.
Here are some impacts that are specific to geographic regions. These effects have socioeconomic as well as ecosystem consequences.
Northeast: Heat waves, more extreme precipitation events, and flooding from sea level rise and storm surge.
Southeast and Caribbean: Increased risk from hurricanes, decreases in water availability with increases in water competition.
Midwest: Increases in crop yields from longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will be offset by heat waves, droughts, and floods.
Great Plains: Rising temperatures lead to increased demand for water and energy, along with increased impacts on agricultural practices.
Southwest: Drought and increased warming foster wildfires and increased competition for scarce water resources.
Northwest: Earlier snowmelt and changes in streamflow timing will reduce water supply in the summer.
Alaska: Rapidly receding summer sea ice, shrinking glaciers, and thawing permafrost damages infrastructure and changes ecosystems.
Hawaii and Pacific Islands: Increasingly constrained freshwater supplies and increased temperatures will decrease food and water security.
Coasts: Water supply infrastructure and evacuation routes are increasingly vulnerable to higher sea levels and storm surges and inland flooding.
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There is great controversy in regards to the role that we as humans play in climate change. It is true that Earth does have natural cycles of climate change, but never before in recorded history have changes occurred so quickly or so violently. Scientific data points towards humans as significant contributors to the abrupt changes that are happening. Carbon emissions, agricultural practice, energy production, and ocean pollution are a few things on the long list of human activities that are contributing to climate change, and the outcome is devastating.
In order to leave behind a livable world for future generations it is essential that we spread awareness and take steps to decrease our impact on the environment.
Curious about your impact on the planet? Your "Carbon Footprint" is an estimate of the greenhouse gases that are produced from your daily activities. Click here to calculate your own carbon footprint.
At My Kid's Lunch we are dedicated to minimizing our impact on the planet. Serving healthy, delicious meals is our first priority, and we strive to do so in a manner that promotes the health of our planet as well.
Here's a few ways My Kid's Lunch "goes green":
- We grow our own organic produce in gardens at some of the schools we serve
- Whenever possible, we use our own trays to prevent the waste that comes with disposable plates and silverware
- We are dedicated to recycling at all of our kitchen locations
- We use online ordering to prevent paper waste
- We plan our delivery routes to minimize driving and therefore carbon emissions, and run regular maintenance on vehicles to ensure they are running efficiently
You can make a difference! When it comes to taking care of our planet, every little bit helps. Things like turning off lights when you leave the room, turning off appliances when not in use, taking shorter showers, and carpooling all add up to make a big difference in your carbon footprint (and saves major $$ too!). You Check out 50waystohelp.com for more simple strategies to save money and the planet!