Sunday, March 10, 2013

Indicators of Climate Change


      
 By Jessica Armstrong

                 Indicators of climate change may seem obvious to some people, but if you were asked to list clear indicators of climate change could you do it? Out of all the people I had asked this question only two could give me more than two signs of our climate changing.  Both people I asked included an increase in natural disasters and an increase or decrease in the Earths temperatures in their answers; these are commonly referenced in our societies news and media because there are easily seen by the public. But what are some of the indicators that average people wouldn’t see or didn’t hear about on the news?
            The EPA compiled a list of twenty-six indicators, these all are signs of climate change scientists were able to track.  One of the most interesting, and least publicized, is the oceans acidity. Our oceans have steadily been becoming more acidic due to carbon that have dissolved into the water and disrupting the oceans ecosystem. Another interesting indicator is the length of growing seasons.  Growing seasons overall have increased in length in recent years, this can be both a good and bad thing for crops. It is beneficial because it allows farmer to grow a variety and larger amounts. There are also negatives like increasing the demand for irrigation.
            The EPA also conducted extensive research into heat-related deaths, the EPA collected information from 1979 to 2009. During this study, which lasted 31 years, deaths related to heat was around seven thousand. Exposure to heat causes heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration. Heat waves are expected to increase in both temperature and length, causing a greater risk of preventable deaths. The elderly and children are especially at risk. Also people who have cardiovascular or respiratory illnesses are extremely vulnerable.
            These three indicators of climate change are not the most obvious or publicized. Poisoning our oceans, extended growing seasons, and deaths from excessive heat would not be topics to come up in daily conversation. But growing seasons affects our food production, contaminated oceans can inhibit the fishing industry or research, and death is a loss for all people in our society. For every way our climate changes we are changing as well, even if we aren’t able to recognize it.

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