The weather patterns of the earth have continuously evolved and changed since it began four billion years ago. These attributes have been reflected in many life and non life forms that appeared and disappeared in the different episodes of the earth’s history. But what the world should be more concern about is that the dramatic changes that are occurring today have been speeded up because of man’s activities.
Weather change poses a very real threat to New Jersey’s environment and economy, especially for the state’s coastal regions, agriculture, fishing and tourism industries, wildlife and public health. As a coastal state, New Jersey is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Natural ecosystems in New Jersey affected by warmer temperatures and associated changes in the water cycle lead to loss of critical habitat and further stresses on some already threatened and endangered species, more frequent periods of extended dryness, and continued increases in fires, pest, disease pathogens, and invasive weed species. (Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007, Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers, Fourth Assessment Report, November 2007).
Continuous emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere from various manufacturing plants around central New Jersey has increased surface temperatures resulting to a rise in sea level. Around this time where more heavier and frequent rains will definitely occur due to the onset of El Nino phenomenon in the pacific region. This will render residents more elevated flood rise in prone areas of New Jersey as soon as fall starts.
At the height of hurricane Irene in August 27, 2011, Gov. Chris Christie announced that the worst flooding in New Jersey has yet to come. He recognized the danger of another possibility of huge flooding when waters near the Pompton Lake dam might rise to as high as 19.2 feet. Over time, weather changes in New Jersey have created unpredictable electrical, agricultural and infrastructural damages that resulted to a massive depletion of the state’s budget. The impact of this development must result to a more definitive and careful planning of the state officials.
In New Jersey, long-term data document a significant increase in average temperature, a significant increase in precipitation, and a significant rise in sea level that are consistent with observed and predicted global trends.
Currently, responses to rising sea levels and increasing erosion along the NJ coast have been the construction of sea walls and bulkheads, raising land elevation with beach nourishment projects, and the building of jetties to capture sand. All of these approaches are expensive, and the costs can be expected to increase as sea level rises further. The additional impact of anticipated more intense storms and floods when coupled with higher sea levels will likely compound the growth in costs. (See the report, Beach Replenishment, in this Environmental Trends series.)
Earth’s temperature has continually climbed an average of 2.5 F over the past 250 years and 1.5 F over the past 50 years based on a study of climate change by a group of scientists that set to address whether global warming is cause by humans. One important aspect of temperature is the effect it has on heating and cooling needs. This effect is often estimated by translating temperature readings into heating degree days or cooling degree days.
Prof Richard Muller, a physicist and climate change skeptic who founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (Best) project, said he was surprised by the findings. “We were not expecting this, but as scientists, it is our duty to let the evidence change our minds.”
While many different agencies in New Jersey adapt strategies to ensure success in combating the effects of climate changes, its successful implementation must be integrated into existing planning efforts and normal operation procedures. Smart and integrated planning will ensure that governments and communities identify those systems most vulnerable to climate change impacts, while laying the groundwork for actions to reduce the risk to human life, ecosystems, infrastructure and the economy. In addition, if efforts to reduce climate changes and its impacts in New Jersey are not met, time will come when residents of both urban and neighboring towns will just pack up, leave and settle to a more sustainable and stable higher grounds conducive to living and retiring.