By Huck Fairman
Scientists warn, as many readers know, that if we reach a 2-Celsius degree increase in temperature globally, we may not be able to reverse it and its devastating effects.
Now a report in Nature Climate Change reveals that northeastern America is among the fastest warming regions in the northern hemisphere. It has already reached or passed the 2-Celsius degree danger mark over the past half century.
There are several causes for this. One is that the Atlantic Ocean in our region has warmed noticeably, particularly in the summers. The coastal temperature rises have been double that of regions farther inland.
What has helped this warming of the Atlantic Ocean off our shores is the current bringing warm waters up from southern locations, namely the Mid-Atlantic, Caribbean and the Gulf. The currents bringing this warm water, and the increasing surface temperatures, have for some reason slowed so that the warm water lingers along the East Coast, from the Mid-Atlantic coastal region to Maine.
An additional cause for this temperature increase is that wind patterns, which have also changed, now bring and hold the warmer temperatures along the Mid-Atlantic coast.
One additional repercussion from this change, in addition to the heat, is that the fisheries are no longer where they were, so the industry must look and travel elsewhere.
Finally, another cause of the warming is the large number of tourists arriving each summer and bringing their emissions and activity to the coastal regions.
Another impact, as we have seen, is that the warm temperatures have brought record rains to the region, which cause substantial, destructive flooding. But the temperatures alone are cause for concern. Lower income, less affluent areas suffer more from the heat, and these conditions will require, at some point, regions and communities to respond to the health, work, and community issues that result from the increasing heat.
Facing these serious changes in temperatures, and in rains and flooding that accompany them, we, as communities, regions, and a nation need to increase the changes we have begun – at all levels. Our governor has begun a number of initiatives. Our president has set out a substantial budget to address climate change, but he faces political hurdles.
Maybe what we citizens can do, in addition to reducing our emissions, is to reach out to political leaders at all levels to urge urgent action. Science is pretty much in agreement that we have a short time, maybe a decade, in which to make the changes needed.