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Global Warming Could Change US Cities’ Climate by 2080- Study

The climate in New York City in 60 years could feel like Arkansas now.

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US, New York
FILE - People cool off at the Unisphere in Queens, New York, July 2, 2018. VOA

The climate in New York City in 60 years could feel like Arkansas now. Chicago could seem like Kansas City and San Francisco could get a Southern California climate if global warming pollution continues at the current pace, a new study finds.

In 2080, North Carolina’s capital, Raleigh, could feel more like Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, while the nation’s capital will have a climate more akin to just north of the Mississippi Delta, if the globe stays on its current carbon pollution trend. Miami might as well be southern Mexico and the beautiful mornings in future Des Moines, Iowa, could feel like they are straight out of Oklahoma.

That’s according to a study Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications that tries to explain climate change better.

“The children alive today, like my daughter who is 12, they’re going to see a dramatic transformation of climate. It’s already under way,” said study lead author Matt Fitzpatrick. He’s an ecology professor at the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Sciences in Frostburg, Maryland, which won’t quite measure up to its name with climate more like current day southern Kentucky.

New York, Climate
The climate in New York City in 60 years could feel like Arkansas now. Pixabay

But if the world cuts back on its carbon dioxide emissions, peaking around 2040, then New York’s climate can stay closer to home, feeling more like central Maryland, while Chicago’s climate could be somewhat like Dayton, Ohio’s.

Fitzpatrick looked at 12 different variables for 540 U.S. and Canadian cities under two climate change scenarios to find out what the future might feel like in a way a regular person might understand. He averaged the climate results from 27 different computer models then found the city that most resembles that futuristic scenario.

He put the results on a website that allows people to check how their nearest city could feel.

“Wow,” said Northern Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini, who wasn’t part of the study. “The science here isn’t new but a great way to bring impacts to the local scale user.”

Biggest change

The 540 cities on average move 528 miles (850 kilometers) to the south climate-wise, if carbon emissions keep soaring. If the world cuts back, the cities move on average 319 miles (514 kilometers).

The city that moves the most is Wasilla, Alaska, which if emissions aren’t cut back could feel like eastern Wisconsin, 11 degrees warmer in the summer. It’s a change of about 2,720 miles (4,379 kilometers).

ALSO READ: US Senate Program Approved Major Public Lands Bill, Revives Conservation Program

“Visualizations that tap into our own lived experiences make a lot of sense,” said Oregon State University climate scientist Kathie Dello, who wasn’t part of the study and doesn’t like what it shows for her region. “Telling people in historically mild Portland that the climate in the late 21st century will be more like the hot Central Valley of California is jarring.” (VOA)

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Study: Planting Trees Can Help in Stemming Global Warming

It is a race against time, however, since a warming planet means the area available for tree planting is shrinking

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planting trees, global warming
A forest guard keeps vigil at the flooded Kaziranga National Park, east of Gauhati, northeastern Assam state, India, July 26, 2016. VOA

Scientists say evidence is mounting that trees can have a far-reaching effect in stemming global warming by removing huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. A recent study bolsters this idea, and tree-planting advocates say it’s something they’ve known for decades.

The recent European study published in Science magazine July 5 says trees could potentially absorb two-thirds of the carbon that has been added to the atmosphere as a result of human activity since the Industrial Revolution.

The study, headed by researchers at the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich, a technical university, found that an extra 500 billion trees, covering an area roughly the size of the United States, could remove 200 gigatons of carbon from the air when they reach maturity.

The study’s authors say that combined with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, adding so many extra trees could replenish the world’s shrinking stock by 2050 and provide the most effective climate change solution to date.

The scientists say that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, the goal of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will require an extra billion hectares of forest, an increase of nearly 20% over existing forest land. It is a race against time, however, since a warming planet means the area available for tree planting is shrinking.

Act locally

There are a few remaining trees in a section of the Angeles National Forest, northeast of Los Angeles, where volunteers are removing invasive species such as mustard and types of thistle, and restoring native plants “… about 40 different species,” said Thierry Rivard of the nonprofit TreePeople.

The newly sown plants are grasses, Rivard said. “Some of them are what you would call shrubs. Some of them are trees — oaks, elderberries.” They had thrived in this area in a balanced ecosystem until recent times, when they were crowded out by other species brought by human activity.

On a recent weekend, dozens of volunteers pulled out invasive plants and carried water buckets through the rolling hills to nurture saplings. The restoration will make the hillsides more resistant to wildfires, since invasive plants dry out in the summer to create conditions for flash fuels. At the heart of the project are trees.

planting trees, global warming
FILE – In the Atlantic Forest in Bahia, fire and deforestation of hill slopes are forbidden by Brazilian law, but law enforcement is ineffective. (Credit: IESB archive). VOA

“Trees have multiple benefits,” said Cindy Montanez, the CEO of TreePeople. “Trees shade humans, the environment, as we see dramatic increases in extreme heat. Trees help retain water in situations where there’s flooding (and) we’re trying to prevent water runoff,” she added.

Reducing deforestation

A major effort to reduce deforestation and expand existing forests is underway around the world, including the Thirty Hills project in Sumatra’s forests, and Trillion Trees, with efforts focused, so far, in parts of South America and Africa .

Both projects were undertaken by the World Wildlife Fund and partner organizations as part of a comprehensive approach that encourages ecologically sound industries. For example, forest-friendly methods of cocoa production in Africa and honey production in Indonesia.

Forest restoration is not without challenges, and researchers must take into account “areas where we have grazing lands, or we have important grasslands, or we need to consider what the land ownership is,” said Christa Anderson, a research fellow with the World Wildlife Fund.

planting trees, global warming
FILE – Mexico’s new climate law promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020, which should make a difference in Mexico City, among the most polluted cities in the world. VOA

Anderson said studies have found that so-called boreal forests in northern latitudes absorb light from the sun and can have a warming effect, and that reforestation works better in some places than others. The research paper in Science says six countries have the potential to restore more than half of the needed trees: Russia, the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China.

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Scores of governments have pledged to help, joining the Bonn Challenge, an effort to restore 150 million hectares of forest by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. “It’s one of the pieces, and another huge piece is reducing our energy and industry emissions. We really need both things,” Anderson said.

Individuals and local communities can also help, Montanez said. “Take personal responsibility, help plant trees,” she said. “It’s fun, it makes our communities greener, more climate-resilient, more sustainable.” And trees make our planet more livable, she added. (VOA)