What are the effects of climate change? How they disrupt our daily life, fuel disasters. – USA TODAY
- Climate change is real and its effects are spawning a climate crisis.
- Weather, wildlife, food supplies and other aspects of daily life are all impacted by the effects of climate change.
- While global average temperatures continue rising around the world, the U.S. has experienced more warming than many other countries.
Climate change makes splashy headlines when protesters hurl soup at priceless paintings or devastating floods wash through communities, but the impacts of warmer temperatures are also increasingly disrupting daily life.
Take a walk or ride a bike. Book a ski trip or attend an outdoor sporting event. Visit a big city or a cottage in the country. Chances are increasing that no matter what choice you make, you’ll feel the effects of the warming climate.
Fall leaf peeping happens earlier. High school football teams take special precautions to keep kids cool. Inner cities set up chill zones to help protect citizens from heat waves.
How does climate change affect you?: Subscribe to the weekly Climate Point newsletter
READ MORE: Latest climate change news from USA TODAY
Heat waves are becoming more intense and flooding rains occur more often. Here’s a summary:
Climate change is real
No matter what your relatives or friends say or post on social media, experts say the mountain of scientific evidence continues to build.
What to know about climate change:What is global warming? Definitions explained.
USA TODAY investigation:How a summer of extreme weather reveals a stunning shift in the way rain falls in America.
“It is virtually certain that human activities have increased atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases,” a national panel of experts concluded in a draft of the 5th National Climate Assessment released in November. They see high confidence in forecasts for longer droughts, higher temperatures and increased flooding.
While global average temperatures continue rising around the world, the U.S. has experienced more warming than many other countries.
Extreme heat waves may be our new normal:Is the globe prepared?
Warming sea surface temperatures around the globe provide more fuel for tropical storms and exacerbate the melting of glaciers and ice sheets.
Why is climate change important?
“Every part of the U.S. is feeling the effects of climate change in some way,” said Allison Crimmins, director of that 5th National Climate Assessment. Representing the latest in climate research by a broad array of scientists, the final version of the assessment is expected in late 2023.
Sea levels are forecast to rise as much as 10-12 inches by 2050. Federal agencies say it’s a “clear and present risk.”
Disaster costs are rising, and scientists warn the window to further curtail fossil fuel emissions and put a lid on rising temperatures is closing rapidly.
Is there a climate crisis?
Many scientists and officials worldwide agree: Yes. By the end of this century, projections show global average surface temperatures compared to pre-industrial times could increase by as much as 5.4 degrees.
Merriam-Webster defines “crisis” as a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. A mix of warmer temperatures, extreme rainfall and rising sea levels often make naturally occurring disasters worse, while droughts become more intense and heat waves occur more often.
“The climate crisis is not a future threat, but something we must address today,” Richard Spinrad, administrator of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in August 2022.
Earth sets new emissions record:Dire global warming milestone could come within a decade, report says
The term “climate crisis” has been used to describe these worsening impacts since at least 1986. Since the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was organized in 1988, its reports steadily have grown more dire.
In April, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said broken climate promises “put us firmly on track toward an unlivable world.“
The Fourth National Climate Assessment, released during the Trump administration, warned natural, built and social systems were “increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services.”
Climate extremes show:Global warming has ‘no sign of slowing’
Is climate change getting better?
Experts say the warming climate will have increasingly severe impacts on daily life, making it moredifficult to access water and food, puttinga strain on physical and mental healthand challenging transportation and infrastructure.
“Every increased amount of warming will increase the risk of severe impacts, and so the more (rapidly) we can take strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the less severe the impacts will be,” Cornell University professor Rachel Bezner Kerr said after the release of one recent IPCC report.
Heat kills more humans each year than floods or hurricanes.
Studies warn the growth in wildfires in the West could mean an increase in dangerous air quality levels.
Warmer climates put animals on the move and increases the risk they’ll spread pathogens to other animals and to humans. A group of University of Hawaii researchers looked at how 376 human diseases and allergens such as malaria and asthma are affected by climate-related weather hazards and found nearly 60% have been aggravated by hazards, such as heat and floods.
Climate change also is displacing people in the U.S. and across the globe.
How does climate change affect us?
Agriculture, sports events and community festivals are feeling the heat.
Farmers are seeing more weather extremes and wilder swings between extreme drought and flooding.
Maple syrup producer Adam Parke has seen a 10-day shift forward in the maple sugar season on his Vermont farm over three decades.
Beef, citrus and cotton:Agriculture sees effects of ‘weirding weather’ from climate change
NASA reported in 2021 that decreases in global food supplies related to climate change could be apparent by 2030.
But agriculture also may be part of the solution to countering the increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Billions set aside by the Inflation Reduction Act is earmarked to help support agriculture and reduce its emissions.
Changing climate:Uncertain future for Northeast maple trees, syrup season
Warmer spring temperatures have forced organizers to move historic flower festivals forward.
To see further impacts, take a look at the time-honored Olympic tradition.
The Summer 2024 Olympics are scheduled to kick off in July in France, where the country’s meteorological officials expect 2022 to be its hottest year since records began in 1900. Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee has delayed choosing the location for the 2030 winter games, in part over climate concerns.
Olympic host city selection on hold:Why? It may not be cold enough.
Even fly fisherman see changes all around them. “Everyone knows if this keeps up, the places we can fish for trout are going to be limited,” said Tom Rosenbauer of Vermont, whose job title at sporting goods retailer Orvis is chief enthusiast.
How does climate change affect animals?
Warmer temperatures are forcing some animal species to move beyond their typical home ranges, increasing the risk that infectious viruses they carry could be transmitted to other species they haven’t encountered before. That poses a threat to human and animal health around the world.
“Climate change and pandemics are not separate things,” epidemiologist Colin Carlson, told USA TODAY. “We have to take that seriously as a real-time threat.”
In the U.S., roseate spoonbills, a brilliant pink wading bird, are moving north as temperatures warm and they’re pushed out of native coastal habitats by rising sea levels.