Global Warming by the State: A look at how changing climate will affect the regions

Joshua Tree in California. Photo by Doug Steakley.

If you’re fond of Joshua Tree National Park and its curiously unique trees, you may already know that this special place is in danger of losing its namesake as temperatures in California’s high desert become too hot for the species to endure.

But did you know that the state of California is predicted to experience water availability declines that could lead to a $3 billion loss in agriculture revenues by 2050?

You’ll find these and other tidbits about global warming’s impacts in a recent series of Wilderness Society reports on how climate change will affect states in different regions of the United States.

In those reports, we look at nine states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Utah, and Washington — to see how they are already being affected by global warming and what’s expected to happen if we don’t act quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By the end of the century, parts of Park City, Utah, are predicted to be without snow and the ski season may last a mere two months. The loss of snowpack in Utah, for example, will affect the state’s $1 billion snow sport industry, which employs 18,000 people. And drought will likely become a severe problem with the Great Salt Lake seeing lower lake levels and increases in salinity that will impact wildlife that depend on the lake.

In Michigan, water levels across the Great Lakes could drop by eight feet by the end of the century, decreasing water availability throughout the state and requiring significant investment in order to maintain shipping productivity at the state’s ports.

And in North Carolina, many areas of coastline are sinking at a rate of seven inches per century. Studies predict that a sea level rise of 18 inches is possible by 2080, flooding more than 770 miles of the state’s coast causing massive property loss and loss to North Carolina’s thriving outdoor recreation industry. The state’s $100 million per year Christmas tree industry will likely be negatively impacted as well.

What The Wilderness Society is doing

Lake Michigan. Courtesy EPA.Government funding to help safeguard our natural resources from the impacts of global warming can help stave off some of the worst effects of climate change in these states and others.

Natural resource funding would go to projects that help stressed lands and wildlife either adapt to a warming world or regain resiliency so that their ecosystems have a better chance at remaining functional.

These lands and ecosystems are critical to our own health. They provide countless benefits that many of us take for granted — from providing clean air and water to storing global warming pollution. Helping our wildlands and wildlife adapt is not only important in addressing global warming, but also will provide economic benefits and create jobs. Funding will provide jobs for thousands of American engineers, scientists, construction crews and other workers needed to restore coastal wetlands and native grasslands, remove invasive species, protect habitat for threatened and endangered fish and wildlife, replant native tree species, and remove unused roads.

The Wilderness Society has played a lead role in securing funding to safeguard natural resources in the Waxman-Markey energy and climate bill (H.R. 2454) that will be voted on by the House of Representatives later this month. We’re currently working to make sure the bill passes with no weakening amendments.

Doing so is more important than ever because each day that we stall, the economic and environmental costs multiply.

Click here to help pass the Waxman-Markey energy and climate bill.

Read the full reports here.

Joshua Tree in California. Photo by Doug Steakley.
Lake Michigan. Courtesy EPA.