Washington faces more than 7-Degree temperature rise in next century
Fri, Oct 02 2009 at 3:30 PM
By The Nature Conservancy
Washington could heat up by more than 7 degrees from climate change by the end of the century – threatening salmon, forests and our way of life, according to a new analysis by The Nature Conservancy.
"We must act now, so that our children and grandchildren will enjoy the same quality of the natural world that we do today," said Karen Anderson, The Nature Conservancy’s Washington Director. "Washington’s snow-capped mountain peaks, clean rivers, vast forests and diverse wildlife are all at risk due to climate change."
Among the changes Washington would experience under the temperature increases projected by the Conservancy’s analysis are:
Loss of salmon runs because of rising stream temperatures and altered river flows
Catastrophic wildfires devastating the forests and grasslands of Eastern Washington
Greatly reduced snow accumulation in the Cascade Mountains, affecting water supplies for drinking, recreation, irrigation and hydroelectric power
While the analysis found startling projections for temperature increases, climate change will lead to other local impacts as well, including sea-level rise and more intense storms.
To see projections of how temperatures and precipitation across Washington and the world may change, visit www.climatewizard.org, a new web tool that enables people to use an interactive map to explore past and projected climate change data on their computers. The Climate Wizard was developed by The Nature Conservancy, the University of Washington and the University of Southern Mississippi.
Anderson said that action can be taken on the ground now to combat the impacts of climate change and protect Washington's communities and natural resources. The Conservancy is working on the Skagit River and elsewhere in Washington to preserve and restore vital habitat for salmon, to make it more resilient to increasing temperatures and greater storm frequency. In Eastern Washington, we are working with partners to increase the forest's resilience to catastrophic fire and protect people and wildlife habitat.
Everyone can make a difference, she said. "Here are three things you can do," she said. "Change your lightbulbs. Bike more, drive less. And be engaged in the political process."
The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on energy and climate legislation this fall. The Conservancy supports creation of a federal cap-and-trade system that includes tough timelines and targets for emissions reductions.
MNN is working with The Nature Conservancy to bring you state-by-state environmental information.