Why You Should Care About Climate Change Part 2: Outdoor Activities

In our first article “Why You Should Care About Climate Change: Part 1,” we outlined ways that daily lives will be affected by a changing climate including financial and health concerns. Yet how we interact and enjoy nature will see even more changes that have not been previously explored. Whether you are a hiker, snowboarder, surfer, or anywhere in between, your outdoor activity or sport will be affected by climate change, adding to the reasons why you should care about mitigation and adaptation:

-Hikers and climbers you may lose that big payoff of the gorgeous waterfall or lake at the end of the trek, as vital water sources dry up from frequent droughts. At the same time heavy rainfall and severe storms can cause more erosion and path obstructions. Various plant and animal species will also be compromised, but burdensome plants like poison ivy actually thrive in an atmosphere with high levels of carbon dioxide; poison ivy’s growth and potency is expected to double in the next 30 years if we continue on our current path of greenhouse gas emissions.

Skiers & snowboarders, climate change is endangering winter sports as well. This past decade has been the warmest on record, and lack of snow and shortened winters may be the new norm. Less snow means less than ideal conditions and less time on the slopes. Your favorite spot might not be for long.

-Surfers and other ocean sports aren’t immune to the impacts of climate change either. For those of you that surf, boogie board, or even body surf, researchers have concluded that surf breaks will disappear. Most of the globe will experience smaller average wave heights than we experience today, due to seal level rise and acidification.

-Divers and snorkelers should also pay attention, as climate change is the biggest threat to coral reefs. Our world’s beautiful coral reefs are already being negatively affected by infectious disease, bleaching and decreased growth, due to rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification. Coral reefs support around 25% of marine life, thus their demise will have a domino effect.

-Beach-goers who prefer the sand to the ocean, you will also see your sport affected with less room to relax on and increased competition to find a good spot to set up shop. Beaches will shrink with increased sea level rise and coastal erosion from intensified storms. Unless your city is dredging sand to replenish beaches (which will be a common occurrence in the coastal cities that want to retain their beaches), you (and especially your children) may not have that dazzling big beach you grew up spending your long summer days on.

In Part 3 of our climate change series, “What You Can Do”, we re-connect to the big picture of why you should care about climate change and outline different ways to get involved in the climate fight.

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