Saturday, April 17, 2010

Effects of Global Warming on the Northeast

By Tara Lafemina

Recent weeks in New Jersey have been damp and miserable. Rain has resulted in people being continuously flooded out of their homes. The devastating floods may be due to us. Severe rainstorms may be the new weather trend. Some experts are pointing at global warming as a main contributor to the uncontrollable rain.

If the storm is not directly affecting us by putting us out of our homes, we are still indirectly paying for it. Storms of this magnitude will result in billions of dollars in damages.

“The Washington Examiner” has taken flooding in the Northeast and constructed a two sided argument about whether global warming is to blame for the storms and what the consequences will be.

The National Weather Service has a 60 year record of Northeast rainfall. Storms typically produce about 1 inch of rain. We have reached the point where many would be happy with just an inch. The trend has increased to well over this average.

Professors and other experts agree that the weather trends are the expected results of greenhouse gasses. But, many would say that it is too soon to solely point the finger at global warming causing the storms.

All “extreme precipitation events” are increasing. Some trends that are happening more frequently is 1 inch of rain in a 24-hour period and storms that produce 2 inches in that time period.

Professionals who believe global warming is the culprit discuss how global warming affects the weather. When the world gets warmer, more water is evaporated which causes water vapor. The more water vapor there is in the air the fiercer and more common storms become.

The annual precipitation of the Northeast has increased by three-quarters of an inch in 60 years. The increase may seem small, but statistics such as this are expected to gradually increase over time.

Skeptics do not believe the recent rainstorms have anything to do with global warming. Their argument is the rainfall is just effecting the Northeast. The rest of the nation does not have the same change we are having. Perhaps in time the rest of the nation will develop the same fierce rainstorms we have encountered.

Even though the experts cannot agree on whether the rainstorms are due to global warming, they can all agree we will be paying for it.

Ross Gittell, an economics professor and committee member of Carbon Solutions New England, wonders how the severe weather storms will financially affect us.

"Do you have to tax people more and that has a damper on the overall economy?" he said. "... Or does it take away from investments in education that could lead to more productivity and economic growth over time?"

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