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Climate change brings heat, mosquitoes, other summer dangers

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 9:47 PM
Last updated Wednesday, July 2, 2014 12:02 AM
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All the things that could ruin summer – heat waves, mosquitoes, even poison ivy – are made worse by climate change and will get worse in the future, experts said Tuesday.

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Workers cut grass and weeds in Evans on Tuesday afternoon. All the things that could ruin summer - heat waves, mosquitoes, even poison ivy - are made worse by climate change and will get worse in the future, experts said Tuesday.   MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Workers cut grass and weeds in Evans on Tuesday afternoon. All the things that could ruin summer - heat waves, mosquitoes, even poison ivy - are made worse by climate change and will get worse in the future, experts said Tuesday.

And it is more than just a nuisance as increasing heat waves in the eastern United States will kill thousands of people decades from now, a recent study concluded.

On a conference call by the advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council, experts cited a number of different summertime annoyances that will worsen as global temperatures continue to rise.

Increasing carbon dioxide, for instance, fuels the growth of certain plants and poison ivy is one that responds really well to it, said Dr. Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture who has studied the impact of climate change for about 25 years. It also causes the plants to produce a stronger form of urushiol, the oil in the leaves of poison ivy that causes skin rash, he said.

Citing the conclusions of the recently released National Climate Assessment, of which she was a co-author, Dr. Kim Knowlton of Columbia University said the impact of climate change is already being felt.

“We used to think that climate change was happening to other people but now it is clearly happening to us,” she said.

The increase in temperatures is allowing disease-carrying pests such as mosquitoes and certain ticks to spread to areas they have never been before and spreading those diseases as well, Knowlton said. There are already an estimated 300,000 people who contract tick-borne Lyme disease each year even with the ticks that carry it mostly confined to the Northeast, but that could change in coming decades as those ticks become more prevalent across the eastern U.S., she said.

People in the East will have bigger problems. According to a recent study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, increasing heat waves in the region could kill thousands a year in coming decades. The authors estimate that heat waves could be 3.4 times to 6.4 times more prevalent by 2057-59 and deaths will be 7.5 times to 19 times higher, and would be highest in Southern states such as Georgia and Florida.

Depending on the model used, the number of deaths each year from heat waves would be 1,403 or 3,556 per year by 2057-59, according to the study.

“Increases in heat-related mortality are a concern in cities nationwide,” Knowlton said.

More are thought to occur in Northern cities – a heat wave in Chicago in 1995 killed 700 people – because people there would be less acclimated to it, but it is no longer confined to those areas, she said.

“We are projecting that there will be (more) with greater average temperatures and (with) those longer-lasting heat waves it is going to be an issue nationwide,” Knowlton said.

The greater concentrations of carbon dioxide that trap heat are also having curious effects on food, Ziska said. A recent study in the journal Nature found higher carbon dioxide made food starchier, with fewer nutrients and less protein, he said.

There is already a concern about air quality – about 145 million Americans live in areas where ground-level ozone or smog is a problem, Knowlton said. Augusta has already had one day this year when it exceeded permitted ozone levels, and it violated federal air quality standards three times in 2013, according the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division.

“If we don’t take action soon to reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change, soon summers won’t be a picnic for many of us,” Knowlton said.

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SRD 07/02/14 - 04:18 am

This is about the most leftist article yet printed in the AC. Come on folks, to say that the heat will kill people in the future is a given, it happens every year in the south and has nothing to do with the disproved theory of global warming or pollution. It is sad that people will die given the heat and some folks inability to afford Air Conditioning and then the other stupid people who leave their children in auto's. What a waste of space on a so-called unbiased newspaper.

deestafford 07/02/14 - 11:03 am
This is hog wash!!!!

First of all there is no proof that the climate is warming. It is all based on model predictions which have not even been able to predict the past. Recent evidence has shown that NOAA actually change the actual temperature data from 1936 that showed it was the hottest year on record. In essence, they lied about the past. The models don't even take into account the element in the atmosphere that has the most impact on temperature---water vapor.

There is no proof, only supposition that CO2 causes warming. As a matter of fact, historical evidence show that CO2 increases AFTER warming has occurred.

There is no evidence that today's climate is what should be the ideal climate for the earth. There is no "normal" climate because the earth's climate is always changing.

If you notice, all these people who are hollering climate change, climate disruption, or whatever they call it in order to mask their intentions and failures, are always wanting to take away liberty and redistribute wealth.

Go back and look at all of the predictions these people and groups have had in the past and none of them came to be.

Just the other day it was announced that the ice around Antarctica is the largest since satellite measurements began in 1979. And let's not forget the global warming "experts" who were on their way to the South Pole to prove that the area was losing ice and was going to be ice free soon got ice bound for days and had to be rescued.

Bottomline is the alarmists have no facts on dire predictions based on faulty models which are funded by the leftist radicals who want to see western civilization destroyed.

Darby 07/02/14 - 01:17 pm

to call Tom Corwin's piece "hog wash" is to dignify it! I believe Tom has always exhibited left wing tendencies but with this bit of yellow journalism he has gone off the deep end.

"Hogwash" can only be considered high praise for this manipulative, slanted piece of leftist propaganda.

Tom Corwin should hide his head in shame!

"...experts said Tuesday.", "Experts", sure they are.....

Or, playing devil's advocate, maybe someone on the editorial staff is just trying to humiliate and/or punish Tom.

After all, who in his right frame of mind could possibly believe that stuff?

Tom Corwin
Tom Corwin 07/02/14 - 04:44 pm
Climate change

Climate change is widely accepted in the scientific community. The only debate is about how much and whether man is to blame, although there are far more that believe it is manmade than on the other side. Nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998.

UncleRemus 07/02/14 - 05:42 pm
'•NOAA Says 2013 Was The

'•NOAA Says 2013 Was The Fourth Warmest Year
•NASA Says 2013 Was Seventh Warmest Year
•RSS AMSU 2013: 10th warmest year on record
•CET: 2013 was 107th warmest year on record [longest instrumental temperature record]
•HADCRU [unofficial analysis]: 2013 8th warmest year on record
•Report: Fed scientists accused of ‘unjustifiably adding on a whopping one degree of phantom warming to the official ‘raw’ temperature record
If we don't know which temperature datasets are correct, if any, climate models based upon flawed temperature data will result in erroneous "tuning" of climate models and therefore biased projections. In January at a joint press conference NOAA and NASA released data for the global surface temperature for 2013. They both show that the ‘pause’ in global surface temperature that began in 1997, according to some estimates, continues. There has been no significant trend in global temperatures over this period.The “hottest year” claims confirm the case for political science overtaking climate science. The “hottest year” claim depends on minute fractions of a degree difference between years. Even NASA’s James Hansen, the leading proponent of man-made global warming in the U.S., conceded the “hottest year” rankings are essentially meaningless.According to the RSS satellite data, whose value for May 2014 has just been published, the global warming trend since September 1996 is zero. Since 1 January 2001, the dawn of the new millennium, the warming trend on the mean of 5 datasets is nil.
The IPCC’s 4.7 Cº-by-2100 prediction is almost four times the observed real-world warming trend since we might in theory have begun influencing it in 1950. The global warming trend since 1990, when the IPCC wrote its first report, is equivalent to 1.4 Cº per century – half of what the IPCC had then predicted. In 2013 the IPCC’s new mid-range prediction of the near-term warming trend was for warming at a rate equivalent to only 1.7 Cº per century. Even that is exaggerated.'

Darby 07/02/14 - 10:58 pm
"Climate change is widely accepted in the scientific community."

And you are free to believe that.

Ain't this a great country?

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