Northern Virginia is Heated!

A Dive Into How Climate Change is Affecting Not Only Northern Virginia, But the Entire World


Used with permission from Creative Commons

A chart on global temperature change over the last 100 years

Written by Dillon Holdridge, Keagan Lanham, and Bridget Vasta

Recently, Northern Virginians have experienced a few sweltering fall months after a very mild, snowless winter.

A lack of frost can affect agriculture, and heat waves can cause the soil to dry up, leaving the coast with virtually no farmable land, leading to a disruption of oxygen levels.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program says that impacts in the Northeast region include heat waves, heavy downpours, and sea level rises. Infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, and ecosystems will also be compromised immensely. Despite the controversy over whether climate change exists, the facts show a correlation of many factors that suggest it.

Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey provide another indication that climate change is affecting the United States on a rapid level today. On November 7, 2017, Syria was the most recent to sign the Paris Climate Agreement, an accord that Donald Trump has attempted to withdraw from. Trump believes that this agreement will lead to many lost jobs and plummet the economy. The Paris Climate Agreement was aimed at cutting emissions and keeping global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. While two degrees isn’t much, it makes a drastic difference for the future of the planet.

Senior Ana Biondo thinks there’s an easy solution to this dilemma. “We need to put regulations on the companies who don’t care about the environment,” she says.

But it’s not as simple as it sounds. Companies are generally stubborn about moving from oil to more renewable sources since they are typically more expensive, thus hurting the company’s profit. Solar panels, for example, cost a large amount of money, while fossil fuels can be found everywhere, but hurt the planet by obtaining them.

According to the European Commission’s emissions database, the United States is the second worst emitter of carbon dioxide. In 2015, the United States alone emitted 5.1 million kilotons of carbon dioxide. NASA confirms that future effects of climate change include temperature rises, the lengthening of growing and frost-free seasons, changes in precipitation, more recurring heat waves and droughts, intense hurricanes, the rise of sea level, and the ice melting in the Arctic.

Since the ice caps are melting, sea levels are on the rise. When that water evaporates, it leads to a rise in precipitation in specific areas around the world. NASA reports that the Arctic Ice minimum has dropped 13.2 percent per decade and sea level has raised 3.4 millimeters per year. The projected sea level will rise 14 feet by 2100. This affects the North Atlantic coast due to the frequency, intensity, and duration of hurricanes. These hurricanes are associated with the rainfall and will continue to increase as climate becomes warmer.

Global warming is a worldwide effect, but it can be minimized with each person who takes their part in cleaning up the environment.

“I think the biggest way to help prevent climate change is to spread awareness,” says junior Erin Ramsey. “Yes, it’s important to make sure your individual impact is as low as possible but it’s important to make sure everyone is doing the best they can.”
Some easy ways to prevent global warming are to change what you eat (processed items influence greenhouse gases), recycle and trim your waste, and choose renewable powers such as using solar and wind energy. This can minimize your carbon footprint and make you less of a threat to the environment.

“We see natural disasters happening way too frequently, and we know this isn’t normal, and we can’t ignore it any longer,” says junior Grace Harkins. “This is a problem that needs to be dealt with, the future of the planet is in our hands.”