Deceptively Gorgeous Maps Illustrate A Scorching (And Preventable) Future

Though the situation seems dire, there are still ways to combat climate change.

This past winter seemed to be a particularly cold (and never-ending) one. Don't let that fool you, though. Temperatures worldwide are still climbing at an alarming rate. So much so that global weather predictions are estimating that the world's temperatures will only be getting hotter as the years progress. But don't just take our word for it. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has released climate maps showing projections of what temperatures will look like in the coming decades. Spoiler alert: things are looking very, very hot.

The maps predict what, given current patterns, the climate will look like in the decades leading up to the year 2090. 

Below is a map depicting the average temperatures across the United States in June, 2010.

Courtesy Climate.gov
Courtesy Climate.gov

Because the maps differentiate between a future made possible by stabilized emissions and a future ensured by continued high emissions, they also serve to illustrate how the choices we make now as a country will impact us in the future.

Here's a map of the predicted average temperature in June, 2090, assuming that emissions stabilize. As you can see, despite the map not depicting the worst-case climate scenario, things have still substantially heated up.

Courtesy Climate.gov
Courtesy Climate.gov

The association predicts much warmer winters, with spring-like temperatures across the nation by 2090. That means regions like the Mid-Atlantic and states like Virginia would experience average temperatures in the 50- to 60-degree range. While a warm winter might sound like heaven to some, those kinds of temperatures would wreak havoc on the ecosystem and those, like farmers, whose crops depend on temperatures to remain stable. 

However, even if you'd enjoy a balmy December, chances are you wouldn't want to endure the following July. According to the maps, even at an ambitious stabilized rate, average July 2090 temperatures across the United States will land somewhere above 100 degrees. And if the rate of pollution continues at its current pace, that figure would actually be closer to 110 degrees or more. To put that into some perspective, the average temperature across the continental US for July 2017 was 75.9 degrees according to the NOAA

And the U.S. gets even hotter in this alternate map of June, 2090, which illustrates how warm we'll be in a high emissions future. The dark red depicting temperatures north of 100 degrees Fahrenheit is widespread across the south, and the cooler orange found on mountain ranges and the northernmost part of the United States has retreated further north.

Courtesy Climate.gov
Courtesy Climate.gov

Here's another look at that same future with a map that depicts peak temperatures across the United States in June of 2090, assuming emissions don't stabilize and remain high.

Courtesy Climate.gov
Courtesy Climate.gov

There are two potential futures illustrated in NOAA's maps, futures that NOAA suggests we can at least partially influence by reducing emissions.

The shift toward using renewable energy, especially by large companies like Apple, could help turn the tides on global warming. As well, innovative approaches to cut down our carbon footprints and passing legislation and regulations could also make an impact. We as individuals can also aid in efforts to combat climate change.

"I know that the problem of climate change seems nearly insurmountable to many people in their daily lives, but it's important for us to realize that we can solve this problem," climate scientist Michael E. Mann told A Plus in a 2017 interview. "First, by engaging in activities and actions that reduce our own use of energy ... and also working to inform the larger discussion and to hold our policy makers accountable for policies that will incentivize the transition away from the burning of fossil fuels towards renewable energy."

(H/T: Popular Science)

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