Global warming is a phenomenon that is way beyond and over the level of awareness of the man on the street, but whose impact is felt by him wherever he is – in every nook around the world, in our very residences, in every geographical location in fact. Everyone is starting to feel its impact in our daily lives. Already there are indications of the sad plight of the earth’s climate in some areas of the US that are blessed with very good climate.
There is ample evidence of the effects of a changing climate in California, for example. Records show that in the half century that passed, temperatures in winter and spring have been warmer. There has also been a recorded drop in the level of spring snow in low elevation to mid-elevation mountains. Blooms show up a couple of weeks earlier, while snowpacks are also melting earlier by 1 to 4 weeks. This is very much related to the worldwide increase of average temperatures by 1 degree Fahrenheit over the last 100 years. It is important to note that the US is the biggest contributor to air pollution that traps heat (CO2 emissions from cars, trucks and industrial plants) and causes global warming. Such kind of activities is projected to be the gauge at how much warmer the state’s climate will become as it is also a scientifically projected that California temperatures will rise by 4.7 10.5 degrees Fahrenheit in this century. If state laws and Washington declarations prevail, emissions could be cut and consequently contain the temperature rise to around 3 to 5.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition to warmer climate, continued abuse and misuse of the environment can cause corollary incidents of widespread wildfires, as well as reduced production and quality of agricultural harvest.
San Joaquin Valley, according to climatologists, may also bear the brunt of global warming. There are existing problems, like water shortage, that can be aggravated by climactic change. At present, South of Fresno for instance, gets only 8 inches of rain annually; the residents depend on the melting of Sierra Nevada’s snowpack to compensate. But this will be where the main problem would lie with warmer temperatures, the Sierras may not be able to hold that much water anymore. This spells disaster for California’s $32 billion agriculture industry. San Joaquin Valley produces nearly 50% of the US supply of fruits and vegetables, San Joaquin County ranking 5th in the countries total agriculture production.
This is a painful eye-opener; global warming hurts not only the physical environment, but also society and the economy. Worst of all realizations is: mildly put, it was initiated by human activities and it is perpetrated by human indifference.
San Joaquin Valley may, for the most part of the year, be dry. Not the case for the area north of the valley. Higher sea levels (another dangerous consequence of global warming) would pose a danger for the Delta areas like Stockton and Sacramento. They stand the risk of being flooded, especially Stockton which is at sea level. Seawater seeping inland would destroy agriculture that thrives on fresh water.
Another consequence that is not as highly felt as the effect of global warming on water and land resources, is the effect of warmer temperatures on the quality of air. San Joaquin Valley will suffer from poorer air quality; as it is, it is shoulder to shoulder with LA and Houston in not so healthy air quality.
These are no laughing matters. Foreseeing the dismal developments, state leaders are starting to legislate to address global warming concerns by cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Last year saw California as the very first state to implement a law limit emissions of these dangerous gasses.
Concerned agencies are also actively advocate awareness of global warming and encourage helpful measures. The University of the Pacific continually conducts campaigns for the cause. Recycling is highly recommended anything from bottles, to cans, to paper. So is lesser driving and the use of fluorescent bulbs over incandescent ones. These are very simple solutions which can be easily done by everyone, but are usually overlooked and disregarded. If only everyone would stand up to the challenge now!