In a report issued on May 29th, the Global Humanitarian Forum estimates that 300,000 people die each year from disasters related to Climate Change. The Forum, a think-tank led by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, also believes that Climate Change seriously affects 325 million people and causes $125 billion in damage every year.
Climate Change disproportionately affects the poorest countries and the poorest people. The United Nations estimates that Africa will need $1 billion a year to help manage the effects of Climate Change, including the cost of relocating refugees.
Similarly, the International Organization for Migration claims that Climate Change will produce more than 200 million refugees by 2050. Many of these refugees will come from island nations that disappear due to rising oceans.
The affects of Climate Change are real. How many people will be forced to suffer before we make the serious changes needed to combat Global Warming?
Here in Virginia, we have a state Commission on Climate Change that includes 43 members who were appointed by Gov. Tim Kaine about nine months ago.
Recently the Commission met and reached consensus that:
A rising sea level caused by global warming poses a major concern for much of coastal Virginia, especially the heavily populated (and traffic congested) Hampton Roads area.
Warming would have significant impact on Virginia’s ecosystems.
Some Chesapeake Bay species such as blue crabs and oysters could decline or disappear.
I don’t know about you, but when you start messing with my seafood, that’s when I get mad!
The state commission is expected to make its recommendations on December 15th. In the meantime, check out some tips on what you can do about Global Warming.
Last week at California’s annual Climate Change Research Conference in Sacramento, two physicists associated with the Heat Island Group presented a paper which claims that if roofs in 100 major urban areas were switched to reflective material, they would offset 44 metric gigatons of greenhouse gasses. It’s hard for me to picture how big a metric gigaton is, but it sounds like a lot. In fact, 44 metric gigatons of greenhouse gasses is more than all the countries on Earth emit in a single year.
The bottom line is that dark roofs and pavement absorb heat and add significantly to global warming and climate change by trapping heat in urban areas. Just painting roofs white and paving roads with a lighter colored material could offset more than 10 years of emissions growth.
The paper says that replacing a dark colored roof with a white roof on an average American home would offset 10 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. And that’s for just one house!
California already requires new flat commercial structures to be built with reflective roofs and next year new and retrofitted residential and commercial buildings will need to have reflective roofs.
I really like those green roofs where people have planted grass and plants to reduce cooling costs. But reflective roofs accomplish much of the same thing and you don’t need to mow them. Now that’s win-win.