To the editor:
It is getting hotter. Everything can feel that it is getting more unbearable outside. Human health concerns, productivity, and crop failure are only some of the consequences of the effects of climate change in lower Alabama. If you thought an average of twenty-five days a year was significant to have temperatures above 95°F, then you should prepare for this value to double, triple, and quadruple in the next decades if action isn’t taken soon.
The U.S. southeast is already one of the hottest and most vulnerable areas to climate change. The region has been experiencing a boom in manufacturing and growth over the past ten years, but the rise of climate change is threatening development, prosperity growth, and wellness of our area. To continue our economic growth, we need to take steps to combat detrimental environmental effects by reducing carbon emissions. We should be setting an example while maintaining and promoting the longevity and natural beauty of the Gulf Coast.
While Mobile and Baldwin locals are often accustomed to summer days in humid heat, there’s an alarming rate these days are becoming frequent. Along with the consequences of increased days with temperatures above 95°F, the region will continue to experience a sea-level rise and risk during hurricane seasons. The atrocities of the 2020 hurricane season were only precursors for future consequences. Not only did the season break records for having the highest number of named storms, but also shattered records for highest number of landfall storms in the Americas, number of rapidly intensifying storms, number of billion-dollar hurricanes in a season ($37 billion worth), and countless others. Additionally, the season was the fifth consecutive year with a category five hurricane in the Atlantic and the fifth successive year with above-average hurricane activity. See a trend?
The risk of flooding is additionally an important matter of discussion. The sea is rising due to melting glaciers and oceans warming. Being the coastal counties of Alabama, we are the most at risk for suffering due to flooding. There is a 39% risk of at least one flood reaching above 7ft between now and 2050 and a 70% chance risk for these same parameters between now and 2080. The active population of Gulf Coast residents living below 7ft is 17,151 people. We are most at risk. States at Risk releases a national report analyzing the preparedness actions of each state regarding active and forthcoming plans concerning climate threats, and the source describes, “Alabama has taken less action than any other coastal state to prepare for sea-level rise…” There has been no evidence of effort to execute procedures towards enhancing stability against sea-level rise or generating a climate change adaptation plan. The carbon pollution actively emitted into the atmosphere will continue to heat Earth for centuries.
Climate Central published findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, outlining, “when enough carbon pollution will have accumulated … to lock in future sea-level rise posing existential threats for each town or city — sea-level rise … could submerge land where more than half of today’s population lives.” If the rate of climate pollution continues, this would mean the loss of areas such as Dauphin Island, Bayou La Batre, Gulf Shores, Satsuma, Orange Beach, Perdido Beach, and many other beloved local towns in under two centuries. Extreme carbon would minimize this risk and save the mentioned towns from entire populations being below sea level, except Dauphin Island. While some may argue the irrelevance of combating these issues if consequences aren’t to come for decades, we must set a promising future for our younger generations. Many of our children being born today will experience 2100; the turn of the century isn’t as far as it may seem.
To add to discussed climate disasters, the heat, as mentioned, is being amplified. There are no measures on implementing resilience actions or planning for adaptation and little information on conducting vulnerability assessments concerning energy, water, transportation, or health. Communities will be strongly impacted by these circumstances, as there’ll be a higher rate of heat-related mortality in vulnerable communities of people above 65, under 5-years-old, and below the poverty line, making up about 165,000 people. This will increase heatstroke-related deaths by 350 yearly by 2039 and 760 yearly by 2059. While mortality rates increase, there’ll be strong evidence of electricity demand due to reliance on power, leading to higher energy costs. There’ll be evidence of decreases in labor productivity, particularly concerning in an area where agriculture is critical. This labor decline will cost Alabama up to $1.2 billion every year by approximately 2050. The Risky Business Project announced in its inaugural report that “there is a 1-in-20 chance that Alabama will experience more than 87 days of extreme heat by mid-century—almost three full months each year of temperatures above 95° Fahrenheit.” As a former marching band student who had to march long hours in the peak of summer, I dreaded the days I checked the weather and saw temperatures above 100°F. Luckily, those days were only once or twice a week. Not three-straight months.
How can businesses begin to combat climate change besides methods mentioned? There are ways companies can start to reduce carbon footprints, but it begins with measuring active CO2 emissions and identifying where the source needs to be tackled. Has there been a dependency on fossil fuels and a need to know where to address the problem? Transitioning from these nonrenewable energy sources to clean, renewable methods are vital in achieving steps closer to carbon neutrality. Additionally, designing awareness campaigns in sustained efforts to familiarize the public with this growing issue is critical to raising mutual understandings for communal progress.
As I conclude discussions on effects of climate change in our Mardi Gras-infested nook of the Gulf of Mexico, I invite everyone to continue to question why summer weeks seem more unbearable and storm seasons seem stronger. Continue spreading awareness, take initiative, and establish paths for the children being born today, tomorrow, and in the indefinite future.
Sydney is a 2021 graduate from Daphne High School. She is currently studying astronomy and geoscience at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.
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