One of the greatest difficulties in climate education is convincing people that climate change is really happening, and that it has an effect on them. Basic human rationality says that people won’t invest much in something unless they believe it is in their best interest. Though it may be hard for the average non-climate-expert to notice changes to the ozone layer or to global temperatures, water is one way we can all see how climate change is affecting the planet right now.
Climate change causes torrential downpours and droughts. It seems almost silly to say that since those two things are so opposite from one another. However, increasing temperatures due to climate change allow the air to be able to hold up to 7% more water. This causes longer periods of time without rain, but heavy, damaging downpours when the rain does come.
Some of these droughts have been quite long, deep, and hot. They have caused not only water shortages, but also wildfires. Drought has led to fires in California, Brazil, and Moscow, some of these responsible for more than 55,000 deaths. In addition to being a safety hazards to humans, these fires and droughts have caused crop damage, which has had its effect on national and global economies.
And thanks to climate change, when it rains, it actually does pour a little bit harder now. Increases in the atmosphere’s water vapor capacity are responsible for tropical storms, torrential downpours, and mudslides. Recently, these heavy downpours caused a “1 in 1,000 year” flood in South Carolina. Further, heavy downpours increase agricultural runoff, pushing more phosphorus into our water supply. This has lead to algal blooms off the coast of Lake Erie, restricting thousands of people from drinkable water.
Climate change has already caused devastating effects to our global water systems, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that these trends will continue and probably get worse, affecting the water cycle in all seasons. High temperatures cause snow to melt earlier in the spring. This leads to more spring flooding, but less water in the soil later in the summer. Further, I have hardly even mentioned the most drastic, water-related climate change effect of all: the rising sea level that is already flooding some coastal areas.
Through water, we have already seen the effects of climate change. Though the looming impacts of climate change are dangerous, perhaps some of the events that have happened thus far can give the world’s citizens a wake-up call for the imminence of climate change’s negative effects. We are always told that the first step to solving a problem is admitting we have one, and water is one way for all of us to see that the effects of climate change are already starting to arrive!
*Special credits to the Intergovernmental Governmental Panel on Climate Change and a Seminar by Dr. Elizabeth Queathem at Grinnell College on October 2, 2015.
20/11/2015 03:53:27 pm
I believe that climate change is already starting to have it's effects on the water. The water temperature is increasing, causing the arctic ice to melt, ruining animals natural habitat, and causing the sea levels to rise, and the ruining islands and peoples homes. Just recently there was major outbreak of toxic bacteria in crab out in the west coast. The crabbing season has been put off and people were told not to eat crab because the level of bacteria is so high it can be poisonous, even after cooking. And all of that is due to the increasing temperature of the waters.Pretty soon we will dealing with extinction of our precious animals, and watching the gorgeous islands disappear. It may take awhile for us to see all the damage that global warming is causing, but sooner or later it's going to throw off the whole marine ecosystem and wreck havoc for us all. Global warming is a problem alone, but dealing with effects of it will be even worse for all of us. So something needs to change asap to save and better our environment.
21/11/2015 12:02:34 pm
This article was very informative. I admit that I unfortunately had minimum understanding of the effects of climate change. Prior to reading this article, I thought that climate change mostly caused drastic alterations in temperature. I never considered that the affects of increasing temperatures would significantly affect water supply. I believe my unawareness is due to the lack of promotion of these issues. We are privileged to reside in a well developed country like America. Water and electricity is readily available to us so we never feel the urge to seek the source. Whereas in other undeveloped countries, like my country Liberia, we get our water directly from its source. Whether its a well or a drinking pump, we experience these changes firsthand. Therefore, indeed people in undeveloped countries are more affected by these changes. However, that does not mean residents of developed nations are protected from these effects. We all contribute to climate change so we are responsible for publicizing these effects more and not diminishing them as occasionally occurrences because these changes will only become more frequent and permanent.
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