Pennsylvania could heat up by eight degrees from climate change by the end of the century – threatening the state’s $5.4 billion wildlife recreation industry, increasing the risk of heat-related deaths and threatening the volume and quality of the water supply in the Delaware River, according to a new analysis by The Nature Conservancy.
“From the food we put on the table to the animals that make our state unique, this study shows that none of us is immune if temperatures continue to rise as projected. We can now see that climate change will directly hit us here in Pennsylvania, in our own back yards,” said Nels Johnson, conservation director for The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania. “If we do not act immediately, our children and grandchildren will live in a very different world than we do today. The weather and landscapes that have made Pennsylvania so special will be nearly unrecognizable in 100 years.”
Pennsylvanians can see projections on how monthly temperatures and precipitation may change for their home state or other parts of the world by visiting Climate Wizard, a new web tool that, for the first time, allows people to use an interactive map to explore past and projected climate change data on their computers. Using Climate Wizard, users can zoom in on a specific location to quickly see how temperatures and precipitation may change by month, season or year under different emission scenarios.
The Conservancy’s temperature analysis looked at three emission scenarios based on low, medium and high rates of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere over the next 100 years. Under the highest emission scenario, which assumes carbon dioxide levels will continue to grow, Pennsylvania’s average annual temperature would spike by 8.7 degrees F.
Even under the lowest emission scenario, which assumes the unlikely possibility that the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere each year will decrease, Pennsylvania will heat up by 6 degrees F.
Scientists warn that a global temperature increase of the 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) or more will lead to irreversible impacts to the Earth’s lands, waters, wildlife and human communities.
Among the impacts Pennsylvania would feel under the temperature increases projected by the Conservancy’s analysis are:
“This clearly demonstrates that Congress must act to lower our emissions immediately,” said Johnson. "We still have time to act, but it’s running out.”
The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on energy and climate legislation this fall.
Climate Wizard was developed by The Nature Conservancy, the University of Washington and the University of Southern Mississippi.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy
(614) 787-5545 (cell)