Understanding climate change in the Lowcountry and beyond.
We’re all familiar with those subjects that are best left out of dinner party conversation. Politics, religion, sex and personal finances are all considered inappropriate small talk topics. Interestingly, there’s another topic that people avoid like the plague that we all desperately need to talk about: climate change.
Part of the struggle with discussing climate change can stem from a lack of understanding regarding exactly how to talk about it. What exactly is climate change? A great way to understand it involves the “blanket” analogy. One of the primary functions of the earth’s atmosphere is to trap heat from the sun and keep us warm, much like a blanket keeps us cozy during the cooler months. Deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide, which causes the “blanket” to thicken. And, just like the blankets on our beds, the thicker the atmospheric blanket, the warmer our planet becomes. The result? Climate change!
It’s important for those of us looking to educate others on the topic of climate change to clarify that this is not a political conversation, but an environmental one. After all, we can find countless indicators of this conundrum just by stepping out our front door. Global indicators include ice melting, sea level rising, ocean-atmosphere circulation changing, extreme weather changing and floods.
Right here in the Lowcountry, we have some fascinating indicators that are catching the attention of locals.
As our waters are warming, more and more manatees are making their way into our tidal creeks and rivers. Roseate Spoonbills, whose migration to our area once heralded the start of summer, are now taking up full-time residence. And this year, as early as February, loons have been sporting breeding plumage, usually not seen until much later in the spring. And of course, the increase in named storms, as well as the heavy rains and flooding impacting the Lowcountry, is hard to ignore.
Once the conversation has started, it’s helpful to have a few suggestions as to how we, as individuals, can positively impact climate change. Simply put, we need to work at minimizing our contributions to the increase in carbon emissions. Statistics show that it is vital that we cut carbon emissions at least 45% by the end of this decade.
What can we do?
To start with, we can drive and fly less. Walking, biking, public transportation or carpooling are all more environmentally friendly choices. Planes contribute an enormous amount of CO2, so you might consider taking local vacations, hosting virtual meetings or taking the train. Lastly, cut back on the amount of animal products in your diet. You don’t need to be vegan to make a difference. By reducing your consumption of animal protein by half, you can cut your diet’s carbon footprint by more than 40%.
Climate change is happening here on Hilton Head Island, and it is already having an impact on our lives. For better or worse, our actions will influence the planet for the coming decades. Outside Brands focuses on connecting folks with exceptional places and experiences, so they can come to understand the environment and inspire them to embrace conservation.
By Anneliza Itkor, Outside Hilton Head
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