“We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.” — Jay Inslee
According to data coming from NASA’s study on Global Climate Change, our planet has experienced its four warmest years between 2015 and 2018 since modern record-keeping began in 1880. Among one of the many casualties of an increase in warming temperatures is that our polar ice caps are melting at a higher rate in the last 20 years than in the previous 10,000 years. As a result, the melting of the polar ice caps is already impacting weather patterns worldwide.
In early September 2019, Hurricane Dorian, a category 5, devastated the Bahamas, making it the strongest hurricane to hit the country. Droughts and wildfires are also becoming more frequent worldwide, especially in regions like the state of California where we’re seeing an increase in the length and intensity of our fire seasons.
With a flood of data already pointing to an inevitable conclusion by peer review studies within the scientific community, all signs point a devastating future unless meaningful changes are made, and made soon.
Do you know what to do when the situation deteriorates so badly that the nation’s food production can no longer support its own citizens? The question has to be asked, “What can I do now to prepare?”
What is Global Warming?
Before we discuss what you can do to prepare, let us first discuss what it is and how is it affecting our planet.
Global warming is the long-term rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system due to an increase in the emission of carbon dioxide primarily caused by burning carbon-based fuels which are trapping heat. The data coming from the NASA Global Climate Change has stated that over the last 800,000 years, CO2 emissions hovered between 200 parts per million (ppm) and 280 ppm. It first went up beyond 300 ppm in 1950 and up to 400 ppm in 2013, which is causing our planet to become warmer in the process.
Since the 1880s, the world has seen its average global surface temperature consistently increase. While there have been periods of cooling down during this time period, the overall trend is upward. In 2018, we saw the planet experienced its fourth warmest year, as temperatures were 0.83 degrees Celsius warmer than the average between 1951 to 1980.
As a result of this increase in temperatures around the world, we’re now experiencing frequent and extreme heat, rising seas and coastal flooding, more intense and longer wildfires, and more destructive hurricanes just to name a few of the impacts.
What predictions are scientists making about Global Warming?
Scientists have been using models to simulate global climate and for 40 years, the results have consistently painted a picture showing how carbon emissions would warm the planet.
These same models show that in the next 10 years, we’ll only see a continual increase in temperature. In April 2019, an article from the Science Magazine mentioned that the next-generation computer models that simulate global climate have predicted that the ”equilibrium climate sensitivity” (ECS) of the Earth came in at 5 degrees Celsius or warmer. This is actually higher than what the previous model predicted, which was between 2 degrees to 4.5 degrees Celsius. The ECS is basically the increase of temperature in degrees Celsius that’s due to the sustained doubling of concentrated carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Though scientists are saying that the actual result of the ECS from the next-gen models can change once more results from other countries come in, the article said it is still a worrying prediction. This means that, if the prediction is true, then the Earth has less time until we reach a point of no return.
This makes it even more important for you to know how to prepare for Global Warming.
Preparing For Global Warming
Preparing for global warming is not a one size fits all approach since the effects that you will experience will depend greatly on your region. Some regions will have to deal with rising sea levels, while other regions will experience more frequent and extreme heat. There are also other regions that will experience droughts and stronger wildfires, while others extreme and frequent rain. Let’s look at your options based on the region you live in.
Rising Sea Level – If you live in the coastal area, rising sea levels are your major concern. The average global sea level has been consistently rising over the past century at less than a centimeter every year. But in recent decades, the rise in sea level has increased. According to the National Ocean Service in 2014, the global sea level was 2.6 inches above the 1993 average, the highest annual average in satellite records. While these numbers may seem small at the moment, projections show that these levels will only increase. Here are some tips to help with your preparation if you live in these areas.
The first thing you need to do is to determine if your home and community will be affected by the rising sea level. It’s important that you also look at other important locations in your area like grocery stores, hospitals, fire departments, etc. Your home might not be affected as much, but if these important locations in your city or town are impacted by rising sea levels, especially during a storm, you may want to reconsider moving to higher ground.
You can also consider hiring a professional to elevate your house in order to raise its height and prevent water from entering. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a detailed guide on how to elevate your house if you live in an area with a high chance of flooding. If you live in a high-rise condo or apartment, then water entering your particular unit may not be a direct threat during a storm, but an obvious potential long-term issue is that your complex will be constantly flooded.
You also need to make sure that you have enough supplies in your home if you plan to ride out the flooding due to storm surge. You need to make sure you’ll have at least 2 weeks to 1 month worth of food, water, and medical supplies in your home depending on how much space you have. There’s a strong possibility the plumbing system in your city or community would not work, so you need also need to consider stocking water to be used for cleaning and sanitation.
Have an evacuation plan. As much as we all would like to stay in our homes, you need to come to terms that there will be a time where evacuation is the best option for you and your family. Make sure you have a bug out bag ready that will contain all the necessary supplies you will need. Also, make sure that you already know where you are going and how to get there. You may want to give consideration to picking up a raft or something similar to allow you to evacuate should the water not recede and help is not available. Heed the advice of authorities when they already tell you to evacuate your homes.
Hotter Summers – As I mentioned earlier, global warming is causing the planet to become hotter, which has become the norm in the last few years as record-breaking heatwaves have impacted many parts of the world. The month of June and July this year were actually the hottest on record for the planet, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A number of cities across the globe experienced record heat waves during those months and scientists believe that these record-breaking hot summer months will continue as long as the rate of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases continue to increase. And if you think hotter summers mean more time on the beach, you’re wrong, as extreme heat is hazardous to your health and can occur without any warning. Here are some ways you can prepare for the hotter summers.
Consider getting double-paned, energy-efficient windows installed as they help regulate temperatures inside your house much more efficiently than single-paned windows. If you don’t have the budget to replace your windows, you could reflect heat back outside using something as simple as cardboard covered in aluminum foil pressed again your windows or pick up reflective window film at your local hardware store.
Check the insulation in your attic. Your local Lowe’s or Home Depot usually will offer a free in-home evaluation to determine whether adding more insulation in your attic will help.
Installing air conditioners in your home will obviously keep your house cool, but they’re not cheap to add or operate. If you can’t afford to add an air conditioner, you can use fans to help regulate the temperature in your home. In addition, you might want to consider adding an attic fan are great at clearing hot air, especially in the evenings and at night.
Read up on heat-induced illness so you can quickly identify the symptoms and take action. I’ve had the misfortune of exerting a lot of energy in extreme heat with no fluids and experienced overheating. Not an experience I wish to repeat.
Avoid going out when it is too hot. While it may sound obvious, try to find new ways to work outdoors in the mornings and evenings to avoid being in temperatures that could pose a threat to your health.
Drought and Wildfires – Wildfires are becoming more frequent around the world and global warming is being blamed as one of the major culprits. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the warming of the planet has changed the moisture and precipitation levels, making dry areas drier. This has increased the likelihood of droughts and wildfires, which is also why you need to be prepared, especially if you live in a wildfire-prone area. Here are some tips to help you prepare.
You first need to prepare your home since a well-prepared home can increase the chances that it won’t get burned down. While going into great detail on this point is out of the scope of this article, I will be adding a link to a video that will cover this more in-depth. Here are just a few brief tips for your home:
Create a defensible space
Retrofit with non-flammable materials
Each member of the family should also know where the emergency tools are located, as well as the main shut-off controls for electricity, gas, and water.
The key with wildfires is mobility and having multiple options in which you can escape. You need to get ahead of this when you’re alerted there’s a wildfire in your area. Each member of the family should have an emergency kit that they can quickly grab and go. Remember, time is critical.
Have a family action plan that each member of the family should know. This is to ensure that every member of the family will know what they need to do should a wildfire break out in your area.
Don’t hesitate to evacuate your house, especially when authorities tell you to. There’s no need trying to defend a house if a wildfire engulfs your area. The steps you’ve taken to protect your house is about all you can do at this point.
Extreme and Frequent Rain – As I mentioned earlier, the precipitation and moisture levels of the planet have changed, increasing the likelihood of flooding occurring in certain parts of the world. According to an article from the NOAA Climate website, the U.S. is already experiencing an increase in heavy rain which is likely to continue increasing, warning that the country should prepare for it. Here are some tips that you can do to help you prepare for extreme and frequent rains.
The first thing you need to do is to make sure your home is prepared for heavy downpours.
Check your roof for any holes or damaged areas and make the necessary repairs.
Inspect the gutter as well and remove any debris so water can flow freely.
Also, inspect your doors and windows and make sure their seals are working properly.
Be sure there is adequate drainage around your home to prevent water from coming into your home.
Have bags available that you can fill with sand should water levels begin to threaten your house.
The next thing you need to prepare is your supplies. If you are not able to escape before the storm hits, you’ll need to make sure you have enough food, water, and medicine in your home should flooding in your area prevent you from being able to leave. At a bare minimum, a few weeks’ worth of supplies for you and your family should be enough, but definitely consider expanding this further. Make sure the food you get doesn’t spoil easily, even if you don’t put them on the refrigerator.
Also, have a flashlight and battery-operated radio handy. It’s not unusual for electricity to get cut off during a heavy downpour, so you need to be prepared when that happens as well. In addition, consider shutting down your house’s electricity, especially if floodwaters are rising.
As mentioned earlier, depending on how prone your area is to flooding, you may want to consider getting a raft or other similar option.
Refugees– Another thing that you need to prepare for is the possibility that you and your family will be displaced. With all of these extreme weather disaster waiting to happen due to global warming, it’s not a far-fetched idea to think that there’s a possibility that you will be displaced from your home. If you noticed, several of the preparation tips I mentioned include having an evacuation plan. When that happens, you and your family would need to know what to do. Here are some tips to prepare for it.
The first thing you need to do is to have a safety plan defined in advance. Having a plan will ensure that each member will know what to do regardless of the situation or scenario they are in.
Make sure the plan will also include the possibility that you’re not together when disaster strikes.
Include in the plan all possible exit points in your house so you all know where to go when you need to leave in a hurry.
Identify possible shelters that you can stay and all the routes that you can take to get there.
Have a checklist of all the items and supplies you will need to make sure you have everything.
The next step is to make sure that you and your family will stick together. It’s not hard to get lost or forget things during the chaos that follows after a sudden disaster strikes. So you have to ensure that everyone is accounted for.
Each member should have two-way radios to be able to communicate in case cellular devices are not functioning.
If the disaster happens when you’re all separated, make sure to identify several locations where you and your family members will all meet up. These locations could also serve as a rendezvous point in case you get separated during the chaos. Make sure each and everyone knows how to get there, how long to wait, and in which order should you go to these locations.
Each member of the family should also have an emergency kit that will contain all the needed items and supplies needed to keep you alive for a minimum of 3 days.
Make sure everyone knows what is inside their emergency kit and how they can properly use it.
You should all at a minimum learn basic survival skills like starting a fire, obtaining clean water and food, and having the right mindset, just to name a few. Having these skills will come in handy during a disaster, especially if you’re all separated.
Have a list of possible shelters where you and your family can camp if you are displaced. The kind of shelter you’ll pinpoint will depend greatly on the kind of disaster you are facing and the extent of the damage.
Know if your local government has set up possible evacuation centers that you and your family can go to if you feel it’s safe to do so. Keep in mind that these locations may be flooded with unprepared people and if the supplies do not arrive soon enough to meet their needs, you could be a hostile environment.
Have an alternative location in case you can’t go to the evacuation centers.
Also consider how you will travel to these locations, whether it be on foot or by vehicle and plan accordingly.
Global warming is an issue that has gone from simply being a warning by the scientific community, to a full-blown reality that we now live in and experience. While writing this article was honestly a bit difficult as there’s really no definitive way to avoid or control what’s coming next, by preparing, you give yourself a better chance of survival in the long-term. Weather disasters frequently happen without any warnings so being aware and prepared in advance can ensure you and your family’s survival.
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