In the long-standing debate about global warming and “global climate change,” many people get wrapped up in thinking that the problem is generations away, and action to mitigate climate change is to preserve the planet for some distant future.
But that is not really true. According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), here are seven impacts of global climate change that are impacting you and your families right now!
Food Prices are Rising
Heatwaves and drought during the past several years have been connected to fluctuating wheat prices, including a 20% spike in European and U.S. markets during a three-week period in 2018. On a global level, when the staples of everyday life suddenly become unaffordable, the devastating impact can include widespread civil unrest. Experts predict that climate change will lead to lower yields of maize and wheat, seriously disrupting the food supply of Africa and Central America.
Beer Is Suffering
If you are a beer drinker, you should pay close attention to the impact of climate change. According to climate researchers, climate change is threatening three key ingredients needed to make beer: water, barley, and hops.
- Some breweries have encountered shortages of clean water.
- Barley crops have been damaged by heavy rains.
- Hops have been plagued by drought.
A 2018 study suggests there will be dramatic decreases in beer supply — and increasing beer prices — due to extreme drought and heat brought on by climate change in the coming decades.
Hard to Get Storm Coverage
In many parts of the country, it has become difficult or impossible to get storm insurance, leaving millions of homeowners with homes that are unsecured and will not be able to be replaced if they are destroyed in a storm. Faced with an unprecedented number of devastating losses due to severe storms in recent years, many insurers have been curtailing their underwriting of homeowner policies.
The 2018 National Climate Assessment says there are few private flood insurance policies available for coastal homeowners. The report adds that there are already indications that homes prone to flooding in such places as Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Norfolk, Virginia, may become unsellable.
The EDF says that right now, you can stand on many mountain peaks in Colorado and see nothing but dead trees for miles in every direction! The devastation results from warming winters that have allowed bark beetles to survive, when normal temperatures would have killed them. The beetles have swept through and destroyed an area of pine forests roughly the size of the state of Washington.
And it gets worse. University of Colorado researchers have found that some populations of mountain pine beetles now produce two generations per year instead of the usual one. That population explosion will doom an ever-greater area of lodgepole and ponderosa pine in coming years.
Coral Reefs are Dying
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the size of 70 million soccer fields. Which makes it all the more distressing that in 2016, 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef was hit by the worst coral bleaching ever witnessed. Now half the reef is dead or dying because corals feed on the now-gone algae that also provided them with their color. Ocean temperatures of 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal are to blame. Scientists found that climate change made the extreme temperatures 175 times more likely to occur.
Here in the US, researchers have found that over the past six years, the Florida Keys reef has lost six million tons of limestone from acidic waters eating away at the corals. That’s 12 pounds lost per square yard.
Lakes Are Drying Up
You probably have seen photos of dry, cracking lakebeds in the Western U.S., and that’s just one indication of a widespread problem. One-third of the world’s major lakes and rivers are drying up, affecting groundwater wells for 3 billion people, according to the World Preservation Foundation.
Coffee Crops Are at Risk
Your morning cup of Joe is just as at risk as your pint of ale at Happy Hour. According to the EDF, most coffee comes from the Arabica coffee tree, which thrives on cool mountain slopes. As climate change has raised temperatures in coffee-growing regions, coffee growers have had to go farther up mountains to find cool air.
Planting further up the mountains is only a short-term fix. Ethiopia, for example — a top Arabica producer — could lose up to 59 percent of its coffee-growing area to climate change by the end of the century. The EDF estimates that globally, we could lose up to 50 percent of land suitable for growing coffee by 2050.
Climate change is not some far-off threat of the distant future. You are feeling the effects of global climate change in your everyday lives, whether you know it or not!