Things are heating up.
On October 8, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report cautioning irreversible damage to the planet within 12 years if humans fail to combat global warming. In particular, the panel urged nations to prevent the earth from heating more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than pre-industrial levels – an objective that could be achieved with a massive cut on greenhouse gas emissions – but it’s unclear if there is the political will on a national level to avert the coming disaster.
How will a hotter planet affect us? Californians can expect these four things if global warming overpowers human effort.
1. Wave the West Coast Goodbye
Nearby facilities may have to be evacuated if flood-proofing techniques fail to keep coastal cities dry. Sea levels are expected to rise at least four inches by the end of the century, meaning that irregular flooding of California coastal towns, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, will become the new norm. Cities would have the opportunity to adapt to these changes at the targeted 2.7 degrees goal as it would slow down the rise of sea levels.
2. Grab Your Inhaler – Asthma and Allergies will Worsen
Warmer weather and an increase of carbon dioxide are the perfect combination for a swelling pollen production. Californians should expect longer and harsher allergy seasons, as stated in a 2013 study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
3. More Wildfires
Last year California suffered its worst fire season in history. Increasing temperatures, high winds and dry weather have contributed to this trend. The projected severity of heatwaves would transform the diverse scenery into something completely different. The state’s deserts are expected to expand as the increasing wildfires pave the way for a desert environment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
4. Prepare for Shortages
Declining winter chill, resulting from the progression of global warming, is predicted to reduce the production of fruit and nuts in California, according to The Office of Environmental Health Hazard. Among these crops are peaches, almonds, apples and cherries, which account for two-thirds of the country’s fruit and nut production.
Although the future may seem bleak, there is a solution that requires the cooperation of all countries. The United Nations report shows that combating global warming is an international effort, that must translate on the governmental level with laws and restrictions against greenhouse gas emissions.