Guampdn: Climate change could dramatically affect our lifestyles within the next 50 years, according to recent findings. Environmental consequences are no longer generations away, according to numerous scientists. A variety of research studies show many of us will be living and adapting to the changes in weather, landscape and food sources, leading to a variety of cultural changes.
What changes could we experience?
Precise effects of climate change are impossible to predict, but researchers can use current trends to offer a range of projections based on ranges of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, if carbon dioxide levels remain the same, surface temperatures most likely will remain fairly stable with an increase of a couple degrees by the end of the 21stcentury. Some evidence also shows average surface temperatures raising more than 11 degrees, which would bring Guam’s average low temperature to 87 and high to 98 degrees.
Warmer temperatures increase evaporation and water vapor bringing changes in precipitation. The IPCC has made some vague predictions due to regional differences and atmospheric circulation. Global average rainfall is likely to increase with higher intensity precipitation events, especially in the tropical and high-latitude regions. Tropical storms and typhoons are projected to be more intense, but possibly less frequent.
The sea level is estimated to globally raise about seven to 24 inches, but regionally we could experience up to almost three feet of sea-level increase by 2099.
Oceans also are presenting changes due to climate change. Carbon dioxide emissions are causing seawater to acidify, which along with warming sea temperatures, are detrimental to the health of corals and other marine life. The rate of these changes is anticipated to be twice that of the changes that occurred over the last 100 years.
What is causing climate change?
Projected changes in temperature, precipitation, sea level and ocean acidification depend on future greenhouse gas emissions, aerosol emissions, and how the Earth responds to shifting conditions.
Gases that capture heat in our atmosphere are often called greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are produced both naturally and by human activities. Events in nature, such as changes in the sun and volcanic activity, may influence climate changes to varying degrees and at unpredictable times. Human contributions of carbon dioxide, through burning fossil fuels and chemical reactions; methane, through producing and transporting coal, natural gas and oil; nitrous oxide, through agricultural and industrial activities and combusting fossil fuels and solid waste; and fluorinated gases, which are synthetic and emitted through industrial processes and in aerosol sprays, are significant contributors to global climate change that have increased in volume and increased the rate of change globally.
What can we do?
Human impact can considerably influence the intensity and rate that change happens. Since nature’s events and responses are unpredictable, what we do will either accelerate or decelerate future climate change. Waste — production and management — is a large creator of greenhouse gases; by reducing, reusing, and recycling we can significantly decrease the volume of greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S. EPA suggests taking small steps to reduce released greenhouse gases such as changing light bulbs to Energy Star; looking for Energy Start qualified products; cleaning air filters on heating and cooling units and replacing old appliances with high-efficiency models; sealing and insulating your home; using water efficiently; being “green” in your yard by using a push mower, mulching grass clippings, and composting yard and food waste; using green or renewable power; and spreading the word.
Green power is environmentally friendly electricity from an alternative source, such as wind or solar. Integrating alternative energy will reduce the volume of fossil fuels burned for electricity, decreasing greenhouse gases and our dependence on imported fuel sources.
Being a small island in the Pacific, some outcomes of climate change will have a higher impact on our lifestyles and culture. Climate change has been continuously happening throughout history. For example, glacial periods (ice ages) changed through warming temperatures melting glaciers and ice caps increasing sea levels and creating different seas around the globe. Irreversible consequences could emerge within our lifetimes if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase.
By learning what will happen and what we can do to reduce the effects of climate change, we can protect our land, seas, culture, and lifestyles … and create a more sustainable island.
By-Kim O’Connor, who is the communicator for the University of Guam’s Sea Grant Program.
- IPCC’s Pachauri on consequences of stalled climate talks (chimalaya.org)
- There’s always the sun: solar forcing and climate change (chimalaya.org)
- Q&A: Debate over Climate Panel Bias (chimalaya.org)
- Ethics and Global Environmental Policy: Cosmopolitan Conceptions of Climate Change (chimalaya.org)
- Confronting the climate change challenge: discussing the role of rural India under cumulative emission budget approach (chimalaya.org)
- Fighting Climate Change By Not Focusing on Climate Change (time.com)
- Head of UN-backed climate change panel stresses benefits of limiting harmful gases (chimalaya.org)
- Species affected by climate change: to shift or not to shift? (chimalaya.org)
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on the mountain and climate related issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last two years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>