Every day, articles and reports blare the potentially terrible effects of climate change. But it's hard to get your head around so much abstract data and so many competing predictions. And when it's difficult to understand the consequences, it's hard to build up enough urgency for action.
A new study (hat tip to Business Insider) has found a clever way to bring home the likely impact of climate change. While it's hard to imagine what the world will look like in 60 years, if you've ever gotten on a southbound airplane or switched on the Weather Channel, it's dead easy to understand what the climate is like in Texas, Florida, or Mexico right now.
The scientists behind this study took advantage of this reality to offer a crystal clear illustration of what awaits us if we don't take serious action to stop climate change. By analyzing existing weather data, they developed a tool that shows what the climate in your city will feel like in 2080, with or without big cuts in emissions. Just plug your town into their handy web app and it shows you which current city your hometown will resemble weather-wise in 60 years.
"It's my hope that people have that 'wow' moment, and it sinks in for the first time the scale of the changes we're expecting in a single generation," commented Matt Fitzgerald of the University of Maryland, one of the scientists behind the project.
Don't bother passing your snow boots down to your grandkids
So exactly what will you find when you start plugging in various American cities? Unless we slow down emissions substantially, in 2080,
New York City will feel like Jonesboro, Arkansas
Washington, D.C., will feel like Greenwood, Mississippi
San Francisco will feel more like Los Angeles
Los Angeles will feel like Las Palmas, Mexico, on the tip of Baja
Miami will feel like San Blas Atempa in Oaxaca in southern Mexico
Detroit will feel like Philadelphia
Denver will feel more like Amarillo, Texas
Anchorage will feel closer to Vancouver, British Columbia
Atlanta will feel like Mobile, Alabama
Portland, Oregon, will feel more like San Jose, California
You may have noticed a strong southward trend here, and Fitzgerald confirms that's what the data shows. "Under the business-as-usual emissions, the average urban dweller is going to have to drive nearly 1,000 km [621 miles] to the south to find a climate like that expected in their home city by 2080," he explains.
Curious exactly what kind of sunblock or air conditioning your grandkids might have to invest in? Click here to plug your city into the tool and see what impact climate change is set to have on your local weather.