One of the most visible consequences of a warming world is the increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. The US government’s own 2018 National Climate Assessment Report finds that heat waves, drought, heavy downpours, floods, and major hurricanes have all increased in the US, as has their strength.
It’s affecting us economically: NOAA released a billion dollar extreme weather events map from 2000-2019 pinpointing the US locations where disaster has already struck, followed by a list of the top ten costliest events.
And, it’s affecting us everywhere:
• The Southeast is experiencing hurricanes with stronger wind speeds, more rain, and worsened storm surge — all adding up to more destruction
• The Southwest is seeing droughts lasting way longer than they are historically accustomed to
• The Northeast is the fastest-warming region in the contiguous United States, according to a recent study — and it’s heating up at a rate 50 percent faster than the global average
• Fires have intensified throughout the West as it becomes hotter and drier
• Farmers in the Midwest are experiencing more downpours increasing flooding and erosion
The consequences of doing nothing are severe. A study using FEMA and HUD data in 2017, which looked at the results of federal grants, determined that $1 spent in MITIGATION yielded a $6 benefit. Dissection of those benefits state by state, can be explored here.
At the end of 2019, COLLATERAL, a website focused on Climate, Data and Science from The Weather Channel, published a history of climate change in the last decade by Bob Henson which is stunning in its perception and its diligence. After looking to the future, he closes his article quoting Katharine Hayhoe, and reminding us: “Every action matters. Every bit of warming matters. Every year matters. Every choice matters.”