Friday, May 16, 2014

Being prepared for climate and weather emergencies

CDC/ Prof. Woodbridge Foster; Prof. Frank H. Collins
The weather these days in the U.S. has been interesting. During recent months, freezing rain in some areas was followed by days of weather in the 70s! We just don’t know what to expect. It’s a good reminder to be prepared for weather and climate emergencies.
You’ve probably heard a lot these days about climate change and you may wonder how that affects our weather. The important thing to remember is that weather and climate are two different things. (Huh?) Yes, that’s right, they’re different.
Weather is local and what you’re experiencing now. Weather changes a lot, sometimes several times a day. Climate covers larger areas or longer times. The temperature where you live may be warmer or colder than usual, however, the temperature of Earth is getting warmer. It’s getting warmer because carbon dioxide and other air pollution is collecting around the Earth and acting like a blanket to trap heat from the sun. Imagine if you were wrapped in a blanket and sitting in the sun on a hot day!
So although there may be freezing rain when we’re not used to having it, overall, the Earth is warmer. One of the interesting reasons for our mixed-up climate is something called a polar vortex. Extreme weather events, such as this kind of system that can lead to major cold air outbreaks, can result from a warming planet.
A recent U.S. report, the “National Climate Assessment,” found that climate change threatens human health and well-being. As the climate changes, we can expect increased wildfires, decreased air quality and more illnesses caused by disease-carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks. Some of the health effects of climate change are already underway.
If you want to learn more about how the changing climate is affecting our health, check out “Years of Living Dangerously,” a new documentary series.
Everyone is at risk for climate and weather emergencies. So it’s better to be prepared for anything weather forecasters may have to say. Make sure to stock up on preparedness supplies so you can be prepared “weather” or not!

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