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Long Island faces enhanced long term risks from climate change as problems become permanent

Zoe Basulto, Staff Writer

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Have you noticed the unusual weather of late? You’re not alone.  If you were to hear of the near eighty-degree temperatures,  air conditioners on full blasts, or people wearing shorts and t-shirts, you would most likely assume it was summer.  However, it is nearing the end of October, and the abnormal heat prevails.  These strange weather patterns have shed light on the importance of climate change, which can be attributed as a partial cause to these high temperatures.

When most people, whether it be students or politicians, bring up the topic of global warming, they discuss it as though it is a problem that can simply be avoided for now.”

— Molly Schiff

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the first six months of 2017 are the second warmest on record, with 2016 taking the first spot.  The steadily increasing temperatures over the past couple of years has caused people to acknowledge the rapidly accelerating threat to the future that this warming poses.  The ten hottest years recorded in recent history have all occurred since 1998, with the hottest being 2016, followed by 2015 and 2014 respectively.

“When most people, whether it be students or politicians, bring up the topic of global warming, they discuss it as though it is a problem that can simply be avoided for now,” said junior Molly Schiff.  “The current weather proves otherwise. This is an issue that demands to be attended to sooner rather than later.”

Warmer temperatures set off a series of chain reactions, which have serious environmental consequences on a global scale. Rising temperatures are causing the polar ice caps to melt, which leads to a rise in sea level.  This puts all coastal regions, including New York City and the entirety of Long Island, at a greater risk of becoming nonexistent over the course of the next century.  Lower-lying areas, such as the Maldives and Jakarta, are in an even more precarious position.  As temperatures continue to rise, more water vapor, a greenhouse gas which fuels storms, evaporates into the atmosphere.  Consequently, scientists are predicting more extreme storms to occur, which have already been demonstrated by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria. Ten hurricanes have hit in a 10-week period, the most recent one being Hurricane Ophelia off the coast of Ireland.

Here in New York, we are already feeling the effects of climate change. Strong storms like Sandy have increased in occurrence by 50% in New York.  Future storms could cause multiple New York City boroughs to be flooded, as well as certain parts of Long Island.  Hurricane Sandy completely debilitated the south shore and caused issues in New York City public transportation for weeks. If future storms were to strike, the most densely populated areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan would be especially vulnerable. Even with a sea level rise of just one meter, Port Washington would see some areas of Sands Point flooded, as well as Leeds Pond, since it is directly connected to Manhasset Bay.

The Long Island Sound is a prime example of climate change, as cold-water species such as lobsters have been declining and warm-water fish like summer flounder have been steadily increasing.  This effect on migration patterns has major implications for the Long Island economy, which, especially on the East End, heavily relies on fishing industries to support their economies.  Besides contributing to climate change, burning fossil fuels has also led to the acidification of waterways, which harms shellfish such as oysters, for which Long Island’s shoals were once legendary.

“Even though at first glance rising temperatures appear to be independent of other negative consequences, it clearly can cause various other significant impacts all over the planet,” said junior Natasha Pelossof.

Alternative energy sources, such as solar power, hydropower, or wind energy, should all be further researched and utilized to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels.  Even small adjustments, such as carpooling or using less electricity daily, can eventually create a major impact.

Even though climate change may not significantly change our daily lives, we still must prioritize it by taking steps to reduce our overall influence,” said junior Ava Sann.

Even though at first glance rising temperatures appear to be independent of other negative consequences, it clearly can cause various other significant impacts all over the planet.”

— Natasha Pelossof

Although some have enjoyed the recent warm weather, it is a sign of the ever-worsening climatic changes that threaten our planet.  This year’s forecasted mild winter is a result of the El Niño, but is still part of the larger trend of increasing temperatures, rising desertification, and strengthening of destructive weather systems across the globe.

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The student news site of Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School
Long Island faces enhanced long term risks from climate change as problems become permanent