President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement could accelerate and worsen the dramatic impacts global warming is already having on Long Island Sound as well as on Connecticut’s environment and landscape, according to experts.
The sound’s levels have been rising for decades,and its waters are warming. So is Connecticut’s air. Shoreline flooding is more frequent. Intense rainfall is becoming common across the state. Violent storms are expected to hit more often.
Studies have repeatedly documented what most scientists believe are the growing impacts that climate change is having on Connecticut, it’s marine environment, our landscape and the people and animals who live here.
The overwhelming consensus among climate experts in Connecticut and around the world is that global warming is happening and that human activity is — at the very least — making it worse. Their fear is that, unless more is done to curb pollution, the long-term effects of climate change could be even more devastating than what is now predicted.
In his speech this week announcing that he was pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, President Trump argued that even if all the goals in the agreement were met it would cut global temperatures by only “two-tenths of one degree by 2100.”
While most climate scientists acknowledge that climate change can’t be completely reversed, they insist any reduction or limitation in global warming can have major benefits.
“Anything we can do needs to be done,” Jennifer Marlon, a research scientist at Yale University’s school of forestry and environmental studies, said Friday. “Even small temperature changes can be measured in lives.”
It is uncertain exactly how President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the climate change accords will play out, but he already has proposed cutting federal funding for environmental programs in Long Island Sound and is easing anti-pollution regulations over various industries. He argues that those changes will help the U.S. economy.
Marlon said most people in Connecticut and around the U.S. “have a real hard time” coming to grips with what climate change will mean in their lives. “Fundamentally, people think climate change is really serious for other people far away from them,” she said, or they think those higher temperatures, rising seas and bigger storms will only affect people “in the next century.”
Rising Sea Level
Connecticut’s biggest climate change risks are intimately linked to its217 miles of Long Island Sound shoreline, according to most experts. About 40 percent of the population lives in 36 coastal communities that now faces the potentially dangerous combination of rising water levels and more frequent and intense storms.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Sea level has risen at a rate of 10-11 inches per century along the Connecticut coast, faster than the global rate.” Projections are that global sea levels will rise 1 to 4 feet by 2100, “with even faster rises possible for Connecticut.”
With some dissenting academic voices, the vast majority of climate scientists agrees that the rising seas are linked to warmer global temperatures caused largely by human air pollution.
Last year saw the warmest global average temperature ever recorded. One recent NOAA report cited historical statistics showing that “temperatures in Connecticut have risen about 3 degrees Fahrenheit since the beginning of the 20th century.”
Higher global temperatures have triggered melting of polar ice caps and glaciers across the world, scientists say, leading to rising sea levels. Climate models indicate that warmer weather also is generating fiercer and more frequent storms.
“Connecticut’s rain has been arriving in heavier doses over the past three decades, and research predicts more intense precipitation throughout New England,” Connecticut’s Council on Environmental Quality warned in its latest report on the status of the state’s environment.