There are a lot of misconceptions about climate change. When people think about global warming they often imagine a thermometer ticking ever upward. While that is part of the deal, it’s also the much more gradual element of the situation we are in.
It can take decades for human activity to create a steady rise in temperature of more than a degree or so.
What we get instead is more hot days than we used to. Spring comes a little bit earlier. July heatwaves last a little longer. The weather itself may be familiar, but the scope of it increases.
This has already had very real impacts on storms, disease, fires, and UV exposure. Public health concerns are rapidly increasing from human-created climate change right now. What does that mean for how you plan your summers?
In this article, we take a look at the new threats of an ever-warming world and discuss what you can do to keep yourself safe from them.
It Starts in the Spring
Doesn’t everything? But in this case, we are talking specifically about summer-related weather patterns. Climate scientists have observed that the first signs of spring weather have been happening earlier all over the world.
That sounds great on paper, right? Who doesn’t love a 62-degree February afternoon? But there are a couple of problems that need to be taken seriously.
- Agriculture: This year in Georgia there was an early heatwave that encouraged peach trees to begin their flowering stage prematurely. The problem? It was many weeks too early. When another frost came around in April, all of the buds were killed. As a result, Georgio peaches were out this year. The state lost 90% of its crop.
- Insects: Plants aren’t the only ones who set their cycles based on the weather. Insects also begin to start doing things when spring warmth comes around. Breeding. Nesting. Biting. Shorter winters have been very good for mosquitos, who now have more time to lay eggs and fulfill their quest for blood. Unfortunately, this has meant that mosquito born illnesses have been on the rise all over the world.
These are very real problems that have no obvious solution in sight. We need food. We need to stay safe from insect born diseases. But as these problems become prevalent in areas that never had to deal with them before, we are left wanting a solution.
The World is on Fire
It sounds like some sort of religious metaphor. Or maybe the title of a terrible but weirdly enjoyable rock ballad. Either would be better than reality: the world is literally on fire. Forest fire seasons have become increasingly longer and more destructive.
Nearly every year since the 1980s forest fires have grown a little bit worse, causing people to lose their homes, and in some cases, their lives.
Of course, it is important to note that forest fires are a natural, and in certain cases, positive phenomenon. Since the beginning of time, fires have been an important factor in balancing ecosystems to ensure biodiversity.
Which is fine, until Maui catches on fire. Until Canadian wildfires blaze for months, with toxic smoke spreading for thousands of miles.
While fire is normal, the conditions have changed. Lengthy heat waves and less rain have resulted in the perfect conditions for a lengthy and destructive blaze. Keep in mind that fire needs only three things. Oxygyn, a fuel source, and an instigating incident. A spark.
Forests naturally have a whole heck of a lot of the first two items. As the landscape dries out, forests can act as a matchbox for very serious fire incidents that have no obvious or easy solution.
Impact on Air Quality
You know those blazing forests we mentioned in the last heading? They aren’t doing much to improve air quality. Unfortunately, they are just one of many sources toxifying the air that we breathe. In fact, the majority of humans live in areas that don’t meet the recommended levels of air purity.
Virtually everyone has been exposed to air pollution at some point. It is so commonplace that the severity of the impacts can get lost in translation.
Poor air quality can result in a wide range of different respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Many people assume that air issues are only observed in cities— and in fact, cities do tend to have lower air quality than rural regions.
But not necessarily by much. The country has many of the same things that are causing pollution in cities. Factories. Manufacturing plants. Cars. Tractors. You get the picture.
Modern society is reliant on things that are bad for the air. Unfortunately, warming temperatures only exacerbate the problem. Soot, smog, dust, smoke.
You probably feel like we have painted a pretty bleak picture. Hey— what can you do? But just because the world is changing does not mean there is no way to live a safe and fulfilling life. Below, we list a few things you can do to adapt to the changing climate and still enjoy a nice healthy summer.
- Insect repellent: With insect born disease on the rise, it is more important than ever to be able to keep yourself safe. Invest in a high-quality, preferably natural, insect repellent to reduce the risk f mosquito and tick-related disease.
- Avoid bad air: This one is trickier but also manageable. Most communities regularly monitor and assess their air quality. With a little bit of digging you should be able to get a clear update on what the pollution levels are in your area on any given day. You can use that information to either decide to stay inside or make appropriate adjustments. For example, masks. Be warned—there is a good chance that you will get a significant number of negative updates.
- Sunscreen: Always a good idea. More intense summers can result in higher levels of UV light. This carries a wide range of risks, including the potential for skin cancer. Lather up the sunscreen, and be sure to lay on a new coat every hour or two.
Climate change is scary, but you don’t have to feel vulnerable. Stay informed, and make the right choices to keep you and your family safe.