In our first article of this three-part series, "Why You Should Care About Climate Change: Part 1," we outlined ways that daily lives will be affected by a changing climate, including financial and health concerns. Yet how we interact with and enjoy nature will also see many changes. Whether you are a hiker, snowboarder, surfer, or anywhere in between, your outdoor activity or sport will be affected by climate change, adding to the reasons why you should care about mitigation and adaptation:
Hikers and climbers you may lose that big payoff of the gorgeous lake or waterfall at the end of your trek, as vital water sources will dry up in areas experiencing frequent droughts. For instance, in 2014 Yosemite Falls was dry for much longer than usual, drying up two months earlier than normal, and only starting to flow once again a month later than nomal. At the same time, in other areas that will see heavy rainfall and severe storms, more erosion and path obstructions may prevent you from hiking. Various plant and animal species will also be compromised, but burdensome plants like poison ivy actually thrive in an atmosphere with high levels of carbon dioxide; the oil that causes the poison ivy rash is expected to become more "powerful and supercharged" if we continue on our current path of greenhouse gas emissions.
Skiers & snowboarders, climate change is endangering winter sports as well. This past decade has been the warmest on record, and lack of snow and shortened winters may be the new norm. Less snow means less than ideal conditions and less time on the slopes. The United Nations Environment Programme has even indicated that the ski industry will be highly impacted by climate change. Your favorite spot might not be for long.
Surfers and other ocean sports aren't immune to the impacts of climate change either. For those of you that surf, boogie board, or even body surf, researchers have concluded that some surf breaks will disappear. Ocean currents like the Gulf Stream may be transformed by melted glaciers, thus also changing storm patterns. Most of the globe will experience smaller average wave heights than we experience today, due to seal level rise and acidification.
Divers and snorkelers should pay particular attention, as climate change is the biggest threat to coral reefs. Our world's beautiful coral reefs are already being negatively affected by infectious disease, bleaching and decreased growth, due to rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification, and researchers have seen that 70% of the world's reefs are already threatened or destroyed. In addition, coral reefs support around 25% of marine life, thus their demise will have a domino effect.
Beach-goers who prefer the sand to the ocean, you will also see your leisurely activities affected, with less room to relax on and increased competition to find a good spot to set up shop. Beaches will shrink with increased sea level rise and coastal erosion from intensified storms. Unless your city is dredging sand to replenish beaches (which will be a common occurrence in the coastal cities that want to retain their beaches), you (and especially your children) may not have that dazzling big beach on which you grew up spending your long summer days.
In Part 3 of our climate change series, "Leaving a Legacy & What You Can Do", we re-connect to the big picture of why you should care about climate change and outline different ways to get involved in the climate fight.