8-day clock with windmill, 2018.
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Challenge – Try Your Hand at Forecasting Climate Change Effects

8-day clock with windmill, 2018.
8-day clock with windmill, 2018.

Forecasting the future by looking at trends, both past and present, takes a bit of imagination. Today’s challenge is meant to stretch your imagination.

Because the effects of climate change are in our faces, let’s use this as an opportunity to forecast what might happen where you are by looking at climate change in other areas of the world. Read the following articles for inspiration and then make note of what has happened to the weather in your area in the past few years. (Climate and weather are not the same thing, so while the climate is warming overall, some areas may get colder and rainier weather on a local basis than they are used to.)

Articles to Get You Started

  1. The British Heat Wave and Aerial Archaeology [The New Yorker] – This summer’s excessive heat in Britain has revealed “parch marks” from archaeological sites.
  2. Extreme global weather is ‘the face of climate change’ says leading scientist [The Guardian] – Climate change is causing extremes in weather, such as heat waves and wildfires. I’ve seen extreme rains in central Minnesota, as well.
  3. Crocodiles and Palm Trees in the Arctic? New Report Suggests Yes. [National Geographic] 52 million years ago, the Arctic was tropical because the earth was warmer. Climate change is heading us back in that direction.

  4. I’m a woman who fought wildfires for 7 years. Climate change is absolutely making them worse. [Vox] The title says it all.
  5. How To Survive Climate Change? Clues Are Buried In The Arctic [NPR] The Medieval Climate Anomaly that occurred about 1,000 years ago caused people living on the Bering Strait to become very inventive in order to survive.
  6. An Arctic heatwave pushed temperatures in Siberia anomalously high [Quartz] – Temperatures at 90 degrees Fahrenheit were seen in Siberia, Scotland and Ireland this summer, with high temps in Canada killing 70 people in a week in Quebec.

Ask Questions to Spark Your Imagination

If your area is experiencing extreme weather events, what might happen if these events continue for the next 3, 5 or 10 years? If your area is getting a lot of rain, how might the flora and fauna change? What will wildfires do to the landscape?

Will the weather cause people to migrate in or out of the area? At what point would the weather get so bad that you would be forced to move? Where would you go?

Are you living in an area near water? What will happen as sea or water levels rise?

In forecasting by using trends, remember there can be good and bad effects in any given situation. Just because climate change will have negative impacts overall, there might be some benefits. What might some of those benefits be? (No winters in Minnesota, meaning no reason to buy snow boots or winter coats?)

How might people adapt to extreme weather? How are you adapting now? Might new technologies need to be invented to help you survive, as shown by historical peoples in article #5 above?

Think, as well, about non-obvious effects from climate change. As flooding increases in coastal areas, insurance rates are bound to rise. Government policies and land use will be affected, too.

Keep extrapolating out from your initial observations and thoughts to think about what might happen as the temperature continues to rise. Use your imagination to link the past to the present and future.

If you become sufficiently freaked out by your imaginings, think about potential solutions to mitigate any negative effects.

Where did your forecasting lead you? Write down potential futures and then wait to see if any of your forecasts are realized.