Global Warming: right here at home

Global warming is something many of us are “worried” about, something  a lot of us talk about in that sort of abstract, we should really do something kind of way. But the issue seems so big, so out there, so . . . . global. It just doesn’t seem like something that impacts our daily lives all that much. I mean, yes, we had snow in Savannah this year and that is certainly not normal weather! But it was also sorta fun, so no big deal, right?

Well, perhaps we should all think again.

The National Wildlife Federation has posted information about how global warming is currently impacting, and could potentially impact in the future, each state in our country. Click here to see the full list and find your state. You might be surprised. I know I was.

Georgia’s diverse coastal and inland ecosystems face a serious threat from global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that by 2100, average temperatures in the state could increase about 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit annually depending on the extent to which global warming is abated. In addition, scientists project that sea level along Georgia’s coast could rise up to 25 inches in some areas, contributing to coastal erosion and loss of wetlands, particularly where sea walls and other coastal development reduce the availability of wetlands to migrate inland.

Warmer winters could exacerbate problems associated with invasive red imported fire ants, allowing them to further expand into Georgia’s upland regions. We already have more than our share of fire ants here in Coastal Georgia, and I can tell you I wouldn’t wish them on anyone!

Salt-water intrusion into coastal marshes due to sea level rise could harm critical habitat for shrimp, oysters and other species that support the region’s thriving fisheries industry. It could also destroy important habitat for wintering waterfowl.

Evidence suggests that hurricanes have already increased in intensity and will continue to do so because of global warming. Moreover, rising sea levels will leave beachfront development more vulnerable to storm surges and coastal erosion. We’ve been incredibly lucky in the decade that I have been living in Savannah, and haven’t been hit by a hurricane yet. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen . . .

The most shocking thing I learned today, however, is that if Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida were considered a single country, it would rank seventh in the world for global warming emissions. Seventh in the world!

Wow.

There are things we can do though. Change your light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. Plant shade trees. (The Department of Energy says planting three trees strategically around your home to block the sun in summer and wind in winter can reduce your annual heating and cooling costs by an average of 40 percent.) And if you can, buy electricity from clean, renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass that produce little or no global warming pollution.

It’s up to all of us to do something and do it now.

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2 responses to “Global Warming: right here at home

  1. Wow, 7th in the world. That puts us right up there with developing countries that don’t have any clean technology in place. Perhaps because of all our cows, driving, manufacturing, and just plain ol’ way of living? Seventh is really appalling. We can do better.

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