By Mark Wilson
A 70 degree March day certainly sounds nice, doesn’t it? Except that comes with a price: 93 degree days in June, and a winter without ice. This is what my block in Chicago will look like by 2050 by the current rates of climate change and emissions–and if I don’t pack up the car and drive north first.
It’s a terrifying vision of my family’s future–but of course it’s not just my own. You can check how climate change will affect you at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) site, The Climate Explorer. In a brilliant bit of UX, you don’t need to search through charts, maps, papers, or long articles to learn how global emissions will directly impact your local environment. All you have to do is type in your address–like you’re in Lyft or Google Maps–and the system will do the rest, providing you with seasonal temperature projections and precipitation specific to your county, charted out in both best- and worst-case scenarios depending on emissions.
A word of warning: There’s no good news.
Hopping around to different cities, the narrative seems largely the same. Be it L.A. or New York City, summers reach the 90s as a standard. The peak temperatures will be much worse, given urban heat island effects, which will make concrete cities even hotter.
The tool also features other, more specific topical tangents–including projections for river flooding and sea level rise–but it would be great to see NOAA bake these warnings in with your immediate address search results, almost like a DEFCON alert for your street. If it did, the NOAA system could tell you right now if you should move within the next 10 or 20 years, lest your home be under literal water.
And hopefully, with tools like this one that so easily paint very personalized futures for everyday people, all backed by scientific data, the realities of climate change can be something that we stop pretending is some partisan issue. Because the realities of a warmer planet are going to vastly affect all of us, soon, whether we want to admit it today or not.
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