10 Apr What you need to know about global warming
Global warming, we’ve heard about it from celebrities, our neighborhood science beefs and seen the online fights regarding its validity. It’s something that is either quite troublesome to you or you probably think it’s just some environmentalist conspiracy. Out here in Minnesota, it could seem fairly easy to dismiss the global warming concerns. After all, we live in Minnesota! It’s pretty cold out here, wouldn’t warmer weather be kind of nice? Yes, but no. Minnesota is experiencing global warming just like everywhere else and it’s for sure not a positive for anyone.
To begin we should first clear the air of some common confusions when discussing global warming.
Global warming and climate change are not the same things
Global warming is the long-term warming of the planet from burning fossil fuels, such as natural gas, oil, and coal.
Climate change is the gradual change in all interconnected weather elements on our planet. Similar to global warming, climate change can also include increased temperatures. However, climate change can also include changes in sea level, ice mass loss, shifts in plant life, and extreme weather events.
However, the two phenomena, while different, still go hand in hand and it is difficult to talk about one without discussing the other.
Weather and climate
Weather is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere. It is short-term and can change in an hour or a minute. Tornados, thunderstorms, snow, clouds, and wind are examples of weather.
Climate is the long-term weather of an area. Over seasons, years or even decades, one can look at the rainfall patterns, snowfall, and even global average temperature.
Global warming in Minnesota
It’s getting pretty toasty
Here in Minnesota temperatures are rising, increasing from 1˚to 3 ˚ F. Temperatures are expected to keep rising. In the Twin Cities metro area, it is projected the average temperature will rise between 3˚ and 5˚ F through mid-century.
However, rising temperatures are not only occurring in Minnesota. A study conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists has predicted extreme temperature increase. The study predicts, if no action to reduce heat-trapping emissions occurs, by midcentury (2036-2065), the average number of days per year with a heat index above 100˚F will more than double.
Rising temperatures may seem nice, but as the temperature increases so do the health risks. Outdoor workers, young children, elderly adults, and practically everyone will be exposed to the high-heat waves and at risk for dangerous burns or heat-related illnesses. Heat strokes, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps are some of the various illnesses that can occur from high temperatures and prolonged exposure.
Rising temperatures can negatively impact our food supply. Here in Minnesota, we know the importance of agriculture, not only for our own livelihood but for others supply of food. Crops are important, but we may be looking at devastation for farmers if the temperatures continue to rise. Corn, for example, can be irreversibly damaged with multiple days of high heat exposure. Likewise, these high temperatures could make growing certain types of crops impossible or at the very least, difficult and unprofitable.
Animals and plants
We are not the only ones trying to adapt to our changing environment. Animals and plant life are starting to shift. Animals are migrating to find a climate that is suitable for their needs. While this seems fine, if one species decides to call a new area home it can disrupt that areas already existing eco-system. The new species may not be equipped for the new types of predators in the area or vice-versa the migrating species may fall prey and, worst-case scenario, risk extinction. Lack of food may also become an issue.
Here in Minnesota, the temperature shift could bring in a handful of new species while also driving out the native ones. Northern tree species like paper birch, quaking aspen, balsam fir, and black spruce may die out. Warmer tree species, like maples, oaks, and hickories could replace them. With new trees comes changes to the soil and habitats for wildlife.
In certain cases, animals and plant life have no other option to find a new home. Droughts can occur from these increasing temperatures, causing dry conditions that are vulnerable to wildfires. These rapid fires can devastate plant, animal, and even human life.
Eco-systems are delicatly balanced and with high volumes of changes the results can be cautastrophic.
You can help
Everyone can take part in reducing global warming. Switching to renewable energy sources, weatherizing your home, using energy-efficient appliances, and reducing your water waste are all ways to help. Visit the link below to learn more.
Global warming is affecting us all, therefore, it is all of our problem and responsibility to fix it. While it may be easy to kick the problem to the next guy or even generation, the issue is still here and growing. Before we know it, it could be too late.
For testimonials and personal stories on the impacts of climate change in Minnesota
Parents and teachers! For a quick global warming lesson for your kiddos follow the link for an easy to read an explanation and the impacts of this phenomenon.
Other sources are linked throughout the article.