Simple as 1-2-3: New NJ Climate Change Fact Sheet

Check out this new two-page fact sheet on NJ and climate change: Understanding New Jersey’s Vulnerability to Climate Change.

It puts all the most important scientific facts in one easy-to-read piece about the three biggest climate change threats facing our state. 

This useful tool was developed by the Rutgers Climate Institute and the Georgetown Climate Center. You can share it with your local town council, environmental commission, and school science teams. Use it to write letters to your local papers, or to back up a discussion with a friend.  

It’s important to remember that Global Climate change doesn’t cause any single, specific weather event like a hurricane or heat wave. But it does make weather events more likely to happen and more likely to be extreme when they do.

A simple way to think about it is that climate is your personality—who you are a person. And weather is your mood—how you feel on any particular day. If your personality changes, so do your moods.

In the case of our planet, the greenhouse gases that we’re dumping into the atmosphere are raising the earth’s temperature. In other words, we’re changing the earth’s personality. These changes from the generally consistent climate patterns we had for billions of years affect where, when and how weather happens. Those are the earth’s moods.

So here’s the deal: Climate change is making NJ stormier, floodier, and hotter.

1. Threats from Extreme Storms

“Power interruptions due to extreme weather, such as hurricanes, thunderstorms, and ice storms, are 10 times worse in New Jersey today than 20 years ago.”

“Heavy precipitation events in the Northeast have increased dramatically in the past two decades, occurring more than twice as often in recent year than during the past century.”

2. Threats from Rising Seas

“Scientists consider New Jersey a hotspot for sea-level rise, as waters along New Jersey’s coast are rising faster than the global average. Best estimates for sea-level rise along New Jersey’s coast show an increase of 10 inches by 2030 and by 1.5 feet by 2050.”

“Scientists are highly confident that future storms will have greater impacts because of rising sea levels. Storm surge combined with higher water levels will make severe coastal flooding more frequent in the future.”

3. Threats from Extreme Heat

“By mid-century, about 70 percent of summers in New Jersey will be warmer than the state’s warmest summer on record.”

“This extremely hot weather will increase health risks for the elderly and young children, stress rail lines and major roadways, and pose threats to agriculture.”

So now that we know—what are we going to do about it? That’s exactly what lots of people around the state are working on.

This accessible guide gives citizens, planners and policy makers another tool to make better decisions about how our state should spend money and resources.

We don’t have time to waste debating about whether climate science is 100% for-sure or merely 97% sure. It’s time to take action on the family, local, county and state levels.

To learn more, come to NJPPN’s Feb. 20 event with Geoffrey Feinberg from Yale University's Project on Climate Change Communication. It’s called America's Future: Communicating with our Neighbors on Climate Change.  RSVP today.

Claire Sommer is an independent sustainability writer based in West Orange. Reach her at claire@kayakmedia.com, @Kayakmediatweet and her blog at kayakmedia.com. She co-wrote NJPPN’s 2013 “Agenda 21 and Your Town” toolkit to help NJ’s municipal leaders deal with anti-sustainable development activists.

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