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After a four-year hiatus under the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Change Indicators website is back in action. The public portal includes data on 54 indicators including sea-level rise, Great Lakes ice cover, heat waves, river flooding, and residential energy use. In tandem with the relaunch, the EPA released a report based on the data. The “disturbing account of the startling changes,” as the Washington Post wrote, includes:
Why This Matters: People are experiencing the impacts of climate change in their everyday lives, from hotter temperatures to more intense wildfire seasons. Creating an easy way for everyone to access climate data gives people a powerful advocacy tool. And it matters for the federal government to be transparent about the increasing, intersectional impact of the climate crisis. “We want to reach people in every corner of this country because there is no small town, big city or rural community that’s unaffected by the climate crisis,” Regan told reporters, as the Post writes. “Americans are seeing and feeling the impacts up close with increasing regularity.”
Diving into the Data
Beyond the headline-grabbing data points, here are other ways that the changing climate has been documented in the U.S.:
Birds on the move: About 300 common North American birds have shifted their wintering grounds an average of 40 miles north since 1966. Birds are also shifting their winter homes inland, where it’s usually colder than on the coast.
River flooding shifts: Depending on where you are in the country, river flooding may have become largest and more frequent (like in the Northeast) or decreased in size and frequency (like in the Southwest). Warming temperatures change evaporation patterns, snowmelt into streams, and rainfall, which all impact flood patterns.
Leafing and blooming: In the North and West, fall’s changing leaves and spring’s first blooms are coming earlier. An earlier spring has all sorts of impacts, including a longer growing season, more invasive species, and longer allergy seasons.
To Go Deeper: Check out the website, its new indicators, and the specific reports here.
The nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, created by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, has reached record lows (at only 36% full) in the face of a severe drought sweeping the western U.S. The reservoir supplies drinking water for 25 million people in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and more.
For generations, Native Alaskans have stored their food year-round in icy cellars that have been dug deep underground, but recently many of these cellars are either becoming too warm so that the food spoils or failing completely due to flooding or collapse Civil Eats’ Kayla Frost reported from Alaska. The cellars, known as siġluaqs, are usually about 10 to 20 feet below the surface and consist of a small room that used to be consistently about 10 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
Why This Matters: The loss of these natural freezers could be devastating to Native Alaskans.
A 20-year-old tax break for oil and gas companies in Texas quietly met its end last Thursday. In the previous two decades, a provision of the Texas code known as “Chapter 313” has provided $10 billion in property tax reliefto corporations in Texas, primarily petrochemical firms.
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