Global warming is hitting close to home

Lorrin Johnson

Global warming. We hear the words all the time: on TV, in class, on the radio, in books. For many of us, the words have become so much a part of everyday life that we either no longer care or don’t understand what it really means to us.

Often times we associate the term “global warming” with world news rather than local. We feel that it’s a problem that won’t affect us personally. We assume that since it’s a global issue, there’s nothing we can do about it; that someone else will take care of it.

In reality the effects of global warming couldn’t hit closer to home.

According to the Department of Ecology, the average Pacific Northwest temperature is projected to increase by two degrees Fahrenheit by 2020. While two degrees may sound like nothing, in actuality it can make all the difference.

With an increase in temperature, more precipitation will fall as rain rather than snow. This lack of snow will decrease the snowpack by nearly 30 percent by the 2020s. Researchers at the University of Washington predict that by the year 2050 there won’t be any more skiing at Snoqualmie Pass, a local favorite for our resident skiers and snowboarders.

The reduced snow pack also affects sources of the clean, fresh water that our state is known for. With less snow falling, the glaciers we rely on for water will be incapable of replenishing.

The Puget Sound is known world-wide for its beautiful waters, abundant fishing, and incredible ecological diversity. All of this is in danger and the effects of global warming are already prominent in the area.

Rising levels of CO₂ warm the earth’s atmosphere, consequently lowering the pH of ocean waters around the world. This process is often called ocean acidification, and it is affecting local waters in countless ways.

Shellfish, a northwest culinary staple, are dying, unable to adapt to the fast paced changing of the water temperature. This damages the ecosystem as well as the lives of local citizens.

The rise in temperature is also leading to the rise of sea levels. Nearly 40 local communities are in danger of flooding, erosion, and landslides. By the year 2050 you can expect parts of Seattle to be underwater.

The northwest is our home. Imagine no longer being able to ski, or able to visit portions of Seattle.

Global warming is happening, and it is happening right in front of us. The numbers do not lie, and neither do our eyes.

Do not take what we have for granted; it’s our duty to take part and get involved in the efforts to prevent and reverse the effects of climate change. From simply recycling our trash rather than throwing it on the ground, to using alternative energy sources in our own homes, every effort counts.