Life as We Know It is Going to Change Drastically
Views and opinions expressed in Bob’s Blog belong solely to the author and do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of the CAC Office on Aging or its staff. Posted August 25, 2022
I would like to talk to you about something that concerns me more and more. As time passes, I hear more and more about it. What I hear gets more frightening all the time.
What am I talking about? What has concerned me? It is . . .
. . . Climate Change
You may have not heard much about climate change. You may not have paid much attention to what you have seen.
Strangely, people have been talking about it for years. Most of those have been in scientific circles. There have been some news reports on television and some articles in the news media on it. However, none has focused on it in depth.
Perhaps you are just like me. For the longest time, I equated climate change with weather. I have learned it is not.
Weather fluctuates by time of year and day by day. Climate refers to the long-term trends. Over time, the earth has been warming.
Going back in history, you will learn there was very little change in the earth’s temperature. Around 1750, a change occurred and there has been a gradual warming. Since the late 19th century, the earth’s temperature has increase about 2 degrees. Since 1980, this increase has been faster.
You might be saying a temperature change of 2 degrees is nothing. Why all the concern? That change of 2 degrees is not just here in Tennessee, it’s over the entire world.
You may or may not have been taught this in school. I know I wasn’t. The earth’s position in the solar system is unique. Its position enables life as we know it. If the earth was closer to the sun, it would be too hot. Living things would burn up. If it was further away from the sun, it would be too cold. The earth would be a frozen mass.
We are seeing the impact of the warming climate around us more and more frequently. In the summer of 2022, there was a disastrous flood in Eastern Kentucky. It was called a 1,000 year flood. Don’t you find that strange? I know I do.
Look at our western states.
For several years, California has not gotten the normal amount of rain it had been getting. Water has been rationed more and more frequently. Several years ago, wild fires only occurred there during the winter months. Now they occur more and more frequently during the year.
The water for Arizona, New Mexico and part of California comes from the Colorado River. There are 2 massive lakes on this river which supply the water for those states – Lake Mead and Lake Powell. During the summer of 2022, the water level at Lake Mead had fallen to 27% of normal. Lake Powell was only 25% full.
This will hurt the people in Arizona and Nevada. In January of 2023, Arizona will have to reduce its water usage by 27%. Nevada will have to reduce its by 8%.
It may be difficult for you to imagine what a reduction in water usage looks like. Just think about what you would do if you had to reduce the water you use by 10 to 25%.
What Would You Do If the Water You Used Was Reduced by 10 to 25%?
You would probably have to cut back on washing dishes and clothes. If you own your own home, your lawn would probably dry out because you wouldn’t be able to water it as frequently as you needed to. You might even have to cut back on bathing.
You may not realize this but a large amount of the produce and vegetables we eat regularly comes from California. The rationing of water there is going to reduce the amount of vegetables farmers there produce.
It is going to become more and more difficult to get fruit and vegetables. The prices of those available to us is going to rise.
You may be saying that’s happening in the West. We don’t see that around here. Really? What about this?
What is Happening Here in Tennessee and Kentucky?
During July of 2023, there were massive floods in eastern Kentucky.38 people died. Many homes and businesses were destroyed. These were called a 1,000 Year flood. Most of the people who lived there never imagined they would see floods of this magnitude.
Right here in eastern Tennessee, we saw the damage and loss of life caused by the wildfire in the Smokies in 2017 and the damage caused by the wildfire in Wear’s Valley earlier in 2022. People may have believed the Gatlinburg Fire was due to strong winds and precautions not taken. However, when there is a second one in the same general area 5 years later, something else is happening. Might it be climate change?
Even right here in Knoxville and Knox County, we are seeing more intense rain storms and flash floods than we have seen before.
What Do Scientists Say Causes Climate Change?
They say Greenhouse gases are responsible. These are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the planet.
The gases are Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Fluorinated Gas and Water Vapor.
• CO2 gases in the atmosphere come from deforestation and the burning of oil, coal and gas.
• About a quarter of the Methane comes from agriculture. The rest comes from oil and gas drilling and fracking.
• Over 60% of the Nitrous Oxide comes from natural sources. The rest comes from agriculture, industrial processes and the burning coal, oil, natural gases, or other fossil fuels to create energy.
• Fluorinated gases are used in refrigerators, air conditioners, foam, and aerosol cans. These escape into the atmosphere from leaks during the manufacturing process and during their use.
• Water vapor comes from evaporation and also volcanic eruptions
The Impact of Climate Change
Here is some of what has happened so far.
The temperature of the earth has risen about 2 degrees since the late 1890’s.
The water temperature in the oceans is rising. During 2021 and 2022, there have been more shark sightings than in previous years. One of the reasons is sharks thrive in warmer water.
Glaciers are melting. If you have been to western states or Canada where there are glaciers, you learned they are much smaller now than they were in the 1800’s.
The ice sheets in the Artic and Antarctica are shrinking.
Sea levels are rising.
The snow amounts in the western states during the winters are less than they have been in many years.
The color of leaves on the trees in the Northeast and Southeast are changing later in the year.
What About the Future?
What Do Scientists Say Will Happen?
Current projections are the earth will be 2.7 degrees warmer by 2050 and 3.6 to 7.2 degrees warmer by 2100.
In 2007, Mark Lynas, a British author and journalist, published a book, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. In it, he laid out what would happen for every degree the temperature increases. Here is some of what he said:
• Temperature Increase of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit
There will be a drought in the United States worse than that during the Dust Bowl. The water levels in the oceans will rise because of meting arctic ice. Certain sensitive species of plants and animals will die out.
• Temperature Increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit
The Earth’s oceans will become more acidic and less able to support life. Mountain glaciers will continue to shrink and Greenland’s ice sheet will start to disappear. Hundreds of thousands of plant and animal species will be at risk of extinction.
• Temperature Increase of 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit
Hurricanes will be more powerful than any we have experienced so far. Asia’s massive glaciers will melt depriving large parts of that land mass the water needed to grow crops and generate electric power. Rain forests in the Amazon basin will give way to grassland, perhaps as the result of a gigantic wildfire, and perhaps turn into a Sahara-type desert.
• Temperature Increase of 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit
The Arctic Ocean will become ice-free for the first time in several million years. The West Antarctic ice sheet may collapse into the ocean, raising ocean levels by 15 feet (4.6 m) or more. Coastal areas such as greater New York will flood, and the millions who live there will be forced to move inland. Land where crops can be grown will become scarcer. Mass starvation will be difficult to avoid. Southern Europe may become so hot that those who live there will become climate refugees.
As you can see, . . .
. . . Life as We Know it is Going to Change Dramatically
There will be food shortages. The cost of food will rise significantly. Clothing probably will be affected too.
As water levels rise along our coast lines, people living there now will be forced to move inland. There will be housing shortages and the cost of homes and apartments will rise.
You may say this will never happen. The government and businesses will never allow it. There has been talk of climate change for years. Scientists have been alerting us for years. So far governments and businesses have done very little to make changes. Do you believe they will do so now?
You may be saying you aren’t concerned about this. You may not live to 2050. You definitely won’t live to 2100. So, you won’t experience any of this.
What about your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren? Do you want to see them have to live through what is coming? I definitely don’t want to wish this on my children, grandchildren or great grandchildren.
What Can Be Done to Keep This from Happening?
You may agree this has to be avoided at all costs. However, there is nothing you can do. You are only one person. No one will listen to you.
Yes, we are all individuals and can’t get much done on our own. However, by banding together and working on this issue, we can get a lot done. If each of us started talking about this and demanding the government take action and businesses make changes, we can get the ball rolling.
Only when each one of us demands changes be made to avert this coming crisis will we see government and businesses take the steps necessary to keep it from happening.
If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, I would love to get them. Please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is email@example.com