The heat is on. We all know climate change is a very real and very dangerous fact of life, and many people are changing their lives in an attempt to stop it. But just how hot could things get?
The Nature Conservancy has developed a new online tool called the ClimateWizard, which maps past and projected climate data. According to their calculations, several U.S. states are expected to see sharp temperature increases by the turn of the next century–not in most of our lifetimes, but certainly in our grandchildren’s.
North, south, east, west–no matter which direction you look in the United States, temperatures are expected to climb. In the worst-case scenario, temperatures across the country will climb by at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit, but many states will see far steeper climbs.
Projected Temperature Increases
Washington – 7?F
Georgia – 7.5?F
New Mexico – 8.6?F
Pennsylvania – 8.7?F
Utah – 9.4?F
Illinois – 9.6?F
To put these numbers in context, the average surface temperature has warmed about 1?F since the mid-1970s, according to reports from NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. That means these states will see the current rate of temperature increase double or triple in the next century.
Land, waterways, wildlife and humans will be irreversibly changed by a global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees, the Nature Conservancy reports. Global data is not yet available on ClimateWizard.
The increases of temperature will change ecosystems across many parts of the country, and it will lead to an increase in heat-related human deaths. The agriculture and recreation/tourism sectors will suffer catastrophic losses in revenues. The cost of fighting wildfires and rebuilding destroyed homes will skyrocket. Agriculture, recreation/tourism and wildfire losses and costs are estimated to top $1 billion in New Mexico alone.
So where do these projections leave us?
The bad news is global temperatures continue to rise, and governments around the world don’t seem to be making any headway on climate change. The good news is these projected temperature increases are based on a worst-case scenario that includes an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. If we can somehow manage to get greenhouse gas emissions in check, then we may be able to reduce the threat significantly.