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Understanding the Effects of Climate Change

 

The earth’s climate is rapidly changing at a rate faster than any point in modern civilization. This change will impact every single person in every region of the world, and the evidence is clear that it is a result of human activities.

Why Is It Happening?

Our actions in the industrialized would – especially fossil fuel emissions – release greenhouse gases like C02 and are primarily responsible for current changes to the climate that we are witnessing.

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During the industrial era, the concentration of CO2 – the most significant contributor to warming – has increased by over 40%.

Source: NOAA.gov

Source: NOAA.gov

This startling increase in CO2 from our emissions has intensified the natural greenhouse effect, driving an increase in global surface temperatures never before seen at any time the history of modern civilization. You may have thought climate change was something that will impact our lives in the future, but the changes are already happening and now is the time to act.

It can be hard to imagine how warmer global temperatures could affect us in catastrophic ways. I mean – warmer temperatures could be a good thing, right?
Nope.

A lack of understanding makes it easy for people to shrug off warnings about climate change as “overreacting,” when the reality is that climate change is affecting every part of the world as we know it.

How Will Climate Change Affect Us?

Food: Agriculture disruptions from climate are increasing and will become more severe through the course of the century. This trend will diminish the security of the world’s food supply by raising prices and reducing production in many areas.

Food Supplies most vulnerable to climate change Source:  Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index

Food Supplies most vulnerable to climate change
Source: Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index

Water: Surface and groundwater supplies are already stressed in many regions around the world, and droughts will intensify water supply shortages. Water quality will continue to decline as climate change causes sediment contamination and agricultural runoff from floods and torrential downpours.

Impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality Source: Climate and Health (2016).  GlobalChange.gov

Impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality
Source: Climate and Health (2016). GlobalChange.gov

Fires: Prolonged droughts and periods of high temperatures contribute to conditions that cause massive wildfires and longer fire seasons. Large wildfires in the US today burn more than double the area they did in 1970, and the western US is projected to see a seven-fold increase in areas burned with 1ºC of warming.

Percent Increase in Median Annual Area Burned with a 1ºC Increase in Global Average Temperature  Source: Center for Climate Change and Energy Solutions.  Wildfires and Climate Change

Percent Increase in Median Annual Area Burned with a 1ºC Increase in Global Average Temperature

Source: Center for Climate Change and Energy Solutions. Wildfires and Climate Change

Ecosystems: The ability of ecosystems like wetlands, barrier beaches, and forests to buffer impacts of extreme events such as storms, floods, and fires are overwhelmed. Rising temperatures are changing the chemistry of the oceans. When combined with other stressors like pollution and over-fishing, seafood production and fishing communities cannot be sustained.

Effects of carbon dioxide emissions on the shellfish market.  Source: US EPA (2015).  Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action

Effects of carbon dioxide emissions on the shellfish market.

Source: US EPA (2015). Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action

Extreme weather: Higher temperatures lead to heat waves. Increased rates of evaporation cause droughts in some areas and heavy downpours in others. Warmer ocean surface temperatures intensify coastal storms. Over the last 50 years, the US has seen an increase in heavy precipitation, hurricanes, storm surges, and flooding.

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Infrastructure: Extreme heat, torrential downpours, and sea level rise are damaging infrastructures like roads, airports, rail lines, and energy infrastructure.

Source: infrastructure.globalchange.gov

Source: infrastructure.globalchange.gov

Can We Stop Climate Change?

Global temperatures have already risen 1.5°C, and will likely warm by another 1.5°C. The Earth’s climate will continue to be affected by greenhouse gas emissions from our industrial era activities for the coming decades, and even centuries. Beyond these next few decades, the amount the climate changes depends on what we decide to do about emissions today. The actions we take now will affect our short-term well-being and the long-term health of our planet.

So, what can we do?

We need to cut our C02 emissions drastically. The primary way we can do this is by driving less, or just by being more conscious about how and when we drive.

Why Cascadia Carbon?

We need to take the future of the planet into our own hands by acting to reduce our individual carbon footprint. This is where Cascadia Carbon comes in. From what we eat to the clothes we choose to buy; our everyday activities result in carbon output. Transportation has one of the most significant impacts on your carbon footprint and making smart choices about how you get around can make a big difference. In fact, nearly 20% of the United State’s total carbon emissions come from light trucks and cars, like the ones that we drive very day to work, to the store, and to school.

When you choose to bike, walk, carpool, or take public transportation, you are preventing a significant amount of carbon from entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.

Cascadia Carbon helps you track not only the carbon you produce, but also, the carbon you save, providing you the incentive to choose alternative methods of transportation – all while having fun with your friends in the carbon-conscious community. Sounds awesome, right?

Here’s How It Works

1. Start by taking our quiz to determine how much carbon you could be saving per year.

2. Download our app (Available in the App Store and Google Play Store Fall 2019)

3. Start tracking your carbon, competing with friends to see who can have the lowest score, and get rewarded for your contributions, however, wherever, and whenever you make them.