Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
East Carolina University graduate students Trevor Burns, left, and Tyler Palochak check groundwater monitoring equipment on a farm near Engelhard, N.C., in January. Photo: Eamon Queeney/The Washington Post
As climate change is causing sea levels to rise, this salty water’s encroachment inland means that drinking water,native plant species, and agriculture are all coming under threat. The Washington Post reported that “rising seas, sinking earth and extreme weather are conspiring to cause salt from the ocean to contaminate aquifers and turn formerly fertile fields barren. A 2016 study in the journal Science predicted that 9 percent of the U.S. coastline is vulnerable to saltwater intrusion — a percentage likely to grow as the world continues to warm.” For farmers in places like North Carolina, saltwater intrusion is quickly costing millions of dollars in lost crops as sea level rise coupled with a string of powerful hurricanes have ravaged their fields and have left them scrambling for solutions.
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center,North Carolina is especially vulnerable to sea level rise for several reasons. Firstly, the land has very little slope, meaning that even small increases in sea level result in a wide expanse of coastal land being inundated and lost. In addition, while sea level is rising globally due to warming, the coastal land in this area is slowly sinking due to tectonic forces, so the relative sea level rise is larger here than in places where the coastline is stable or rising. Thus the current rate of sea-level rise in this area is about twice the global average.
In addition to this, the Washington Post reported that:
Hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Florence in 2018 brought several feet of storm surge that inundated the area with seawater on the North Carolina Coast.
Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that sea levels near Pamlico Sound, NC are rising at a rate of 4.4 millimeters per year — equivalent to nearly 1.5 feet over the next century.
Climate change, whether NC lawmakers want to admit it or not, presents an enormous threat to North Carolina’s economy and especially its agricultural sector. North Carolina’s agricultural industry, including food, fiber, and forestry, contributes $84 billion to the state’s economy, accounts for more than 17 percent of the state’s income, and employs 17 percent of the workforce.
Why This Matters: Saltwater intrusion as a result of sea level rise has also been affecting California’s fertile valleys and has forced farmers and scientists to race against the clock to find a solution. While researchers are still trying to understand the specific dynamics of this intrusion the best way we can slow it down is to drastically act to reduce carbon emissions and help slow climate change. In North Carolina, state lawmakers have routinely ignored and tried to bury the findings of scientists indicating the state’s vulnerability to climate change and especially sea level rise. Not only will climate change deliver a blow to sectors of our economy like agriculture but we will have to grapple with how to feed ourselves as less farmland will remain arable.
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor In May, President Biden ordered government agencies to evaluate and develop a plan to mitigate the risk that climate change presents to the US economy. Last week, the administration released a first-of-its-kind roadmap to building a climate-resilient economy. The 40-page report was announced Friday and lays out concrete government-wide […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer As the earth’s temperature skyrockets, so will the demand to beat the heat with air conditioning. While access to cooler air is yet another example of climate inequity, a new study published in Nature found that people in lower-income countries may also have to pay much more than those […]
According to a new study published in Nature Climate Change, 85% of the global population is feeling the impacts of human-induced climate change. Meanwhile, the world’s most emitting nations are also some of its wealthiest but have lagged on taking decisive climate action as developing countries bear the brunt of climate fallout. If high emitters don’t step up to lead the charge […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.