5 Things That Won’t Exist If We Fail On Climate Change
It surprises me how people who are cautious in most areas of their lives can be so irresponsible when it comes to climate change. I understand that for some the reality of what our rampant consumption is doing to the planet can be hard to comprehend. I understand that it’s not easy to tell the entrenched fossil fuel industry that we don’t want what they’re pedaling anymore. But that’s no excuse. What do we really have to lose?
If we take action to curb the behaviors that are accelerating this change, and the only results are cleaner air, safer water and millions saved on wasted energy, is that so terrible? On the other hand, if we refuse to act because it’s too inconvenient, and it turns out we’re wrong, the consequences are almost incomprehensible.
And we’re not just talking about drought, superstorms, loss of biodiversity. We’re talking about a world where Winter may become an urban legend, and staples like coffee and chocolate become exotic delicacies. Basically, it all comes down to the type of world we want to leave to future generations. Here are five more things that our great grandkids might only hear about in movies if we don’t act soon.
Climate change will have a severe negative impact on the $12.2 billion winter sports industry, affecting the tourism economy in 38 states including California, according to a report released earlier this month. The report, called “Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United States” (PDF), says that $1 billion in revenue and up to 27,000 jobs were lost nationwide over the last decade due to reduced snowfall. The winter of 2011-12 was the fourth warmest on record, with about half of ski areas opening late and closing early, the report said. According to another report by the United Nations Environment Programme, only half of the ski areas in the Northeast will be able to maintain 100-day seasons by as early as 2039. How much longer do you think it will take until it affects the large ones in Colorado, California and Europe? Skiers are already hard-pressed now to find places for year-round training. “Of course we’re all very worried about the future of our sport. Every year we have more trouble finding places to train,” said Olympic gold medalist Anja Paerson.
Tropical Island Vacations
Have you always wanted to sit, toes buried in warm, white sand, gazing out on the crystal blue waters of a tropical island? You better book your flight now. It was way back in 2006 when the first tropical island was washed off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels. As the seas continue to swell due to melting Arctic ice sheets, whole island nations, many of which are popular tourist destinations, will be swallowed up. From the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, rising oceans are expected to inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge significant portions of scores of coastal cities. We thought that it would take many decades for ocean levels to put coastlines in danger, but it’s recently been discovered that they’re rising much faster than initially estimated.
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According to a November 2011 article by Paige Donner, wine yields, flavor and even the types of grapes grown will be affected by the coming-soon changes in climate (some in positive ways, others negative, depending on the type of grape). According to a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University in California, there could be 50 percent less land suitable for cultivating premium wine grapes in high-value areas of Northern California even as some cooler parts of Oregon and Washington state would become correspondingly better for growing grapes. These results follow the researchers’ 2006 climate study, which projected that as much as 81 percent of premium wine grape acreage in the country could become unsuitable for some varietals by the end of the century. Something similar is happening in Europe, with some countries already seeing disastrous harvests, and parts of England suddenly becoming warm enough to grow grapes.
In 2007, specialists from seven European countries published results of the first large-scale study of climate change’s impact on historic landmarks. Among other things, the pilot study found that severe damage from desertification and intense rains could pose to a threat to cultural heritage sites such as the Tower of London, the historic center of Prague and the ancient temples and Colosseum of Greece. In the same year, the World Monuments Fund published its list of the top 100 most endangered cultural landmarks.
For the first time, the United States was home to more listed sites than any other country, with seven. The U.S. locations also include historic Route 66 and the New York State Pavilion, a rusting remnant of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City’s Queens borough. The same goes for many of the most beautiful parts of Australia. Experts report that the Great Barrier Reef, Bondi Beach, and Kakadu National Park might not exist by the end of the century.
At the March 2009 range states meeting of the five polar bear nations, scientists agreed that climate change is the single biggest threat facing polar bears. The Arctic is experiencing the warmest air temperatures in four centuries, and sea ice losses in the summer of 2012 broke all previous records. Without ice, polar bears are unable to reach their prey. Shorter hunting seasons correlate directly with a 22 percent drop in the population of Western Hudson Bay near Churchill in Manitoba, Canada since the early 1980s. There has also been a steep drop in cub survival rates. Just last year, BBC News published a shocking image of an adult polar bear dragging the body of a cub that it has just killed across the Arctic sea ice. Polar bears normally hunt seals but if environmental conditions mean these are not available, the big predators will seek out other sources of food — even their own kind.