Environment Virginia report assesses impact of global warming on weather

environment vaMost Virginia counties have recently been affected by weather disaster, impacting residents and state landmarks
In Virginia, 91% of residents live in cities or counties affected recently by weather-related disasters, according to new interactive map using data from the federal government. Scientists say global warming is already exacerbating some extreme weather events and their impacts. Coastal communities in Virginia are especially vulnerable given the destruction that can be caused by storm surges during extreme weather events. Virginia’s famous historical landmarks, such as Ft. Monroe, Jamestown and Williamsburg, are also at risk from rising seas and extreme weather.

“We used to think of climate change as a problem that would happen someday, somewhere,” said Lilias Gordon, global warming solutions organizer with Environment Virginia. “But as this map helps demonstrate, global warming is happening now, and it’s already hitting close to home.”

Environment Virginia researchers, who created the online map, found global warming has the potential to make tropical storms more destructive. Hurricanes and other coastal storms are likely to be more powerful and deliver more rainfall because of warmer temperatures, while storm surge could be more destructive as sea levels rise. Scientists predict unchecked global warming will increase the frequency, severity and the catastrophic impacts of floods and storms.

“We don’t have to look forward to see the effects of global warming. With every northeastern hurricane that impacts our region, my community suffers catastrophic floods resulting in significant damage to propriety that is rarely recoverable through insurance” said Gilda Niknezhad, a nurse practitioner and Norfolk resident. “These are some of the endpoint results of global warming effecting us right here in Southeast Virginia. And my community is not unique.”

The map reveals that nationwide, more than 40 million Americans live in counties that were affected by more than five weather disasters over the last five years, while counties housing 96 percent of the population experienced declared disasters at least once.
The analysis comes as Virginia figures out how to implement the Clean Power Plan, which is the first ever limit on carbon pollution. Senator Warner will be a key vote implementing this plan.
It also comes just weeks before world leaders convene in Paris to reach an international agreement to slash global warming emissions.
Since the pre-industrial era, average global temperature has increased by nearly a degree Celsius, and climate scientists view another degree increase as untenable, leading to increasingly extreme weather events that will make parts of the world uninhabitable.

“To avoid even more dangerous climate impacts and protect Virginia’s iconic coastal communities and landmarks,” said Gordon, “we need our leaders to act boldly to slash carbon pollution and transition to 100 percent clean renewable energy.”


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