Monday, August 31, 2009

Wacky Weather

Here in the northeast US, summer weather was unusual to say the least. The skies appeared to open up and pour rain for weeks on end while cool temperatures made for a seemingly short season. Could it be that global warming is just a figment of our imaginations?

Not according to Joseph Romm, MIT-trained physicist. Although cool, wet summer weather may make one wish for some warming, heavy downpours and drenching rains are actually part of the global warming phenomenon. “One of the core predictions of climate change is that one-day rain events of 2 inches and 4 inches or more will become more commonplace," says Romm. The rain not only dampens summer fun plans, but creates problems for agriculture, sewage systems, and flood zones.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, global warming will likely continue to bring about severe weather changes including fiercer hurricaines, wildfires, droughts, and floods.
Forecasts for future weather are not encouraging. The Nature Conservancy predicts that by 2100, hot summer temperatures in the northeast could arrive three weeks earlier and last three weeks longer; higher temperatures in the northwest could increase forest fires and summer drought; and increased storm surges from rising sea levels could threaten the southeast. And global warming is exactly that: global. Researchers from the UK's Hadley Centre predict that heatwaves similar to the 2003 one that resulted in more than 50,000 deaths are "now four times more likely to occur due to the rise in greenhouse gases."

So how do we stop - or at least reduce - global warming? We need to minimize the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide emissions in the environment that occur when we burn fossil fuels such as gas, oil, and coal. Here are some practical things YOU can get started with today that will help stem the tide of global warming:

Recycle. Paper, plastic, glass, aluminum - the more you recycle, the better. Estimates indicate "that recycling half of your household waste, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually."

Ditch the Car. Or at least consider walking or biking more, minimizing your trips, carpooling, or using mass transit. "Every gallon of gas you save not only helps your budget, it also keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere."

Plant a Tree. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, helping to stabilize our environment. Just one tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.

Change Your Temperature. Reduce your thermostat in winter by just 2 degrees and raise it 2 degrees in summer and you could save 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Buy Organic. Organic soil captures and stores carbon dioxide better than soil from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!

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