Climate Change Impacts
Climate change impacts Milton directly in four main ways:
Intense Storms: The frequency and severity of intense storms—including nor’easters, ice storms, hurricanes, windstorms, and heavy precipitation events— are increasing. In the Northeast, the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events increased by more than 70% from 1958 to 2010. With ongoing climate change, intense storms will become more frequent and more intense, with precipitation concentrated in fewer but heavier events. Impacts such as downed trees, power outages, and property damage will be more frequent and severe.
Flooding: Flooding is caused by increased precipitation and intense storms, and worsened by periods of drought. Flooding is expected to become more problematic as intense storms continue to increase. Parts of Milton between Brook Road and Centre Street, between Squantum Street and Libby Road, and along Hurlcroft Road, may be subject to coastal flooding, according to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management. In addition, areas along Pine Tree Brook and many streets in East Milton could be subject to storm surge in the event of a hurricane.
Heat Waves: In Massachusetts, a heat wave is defined as three or more days above 90°F. Both the length and frequency of heat waves are expected to increase in the northeast, along with rising annual average temperatures.
Drought: Periods of abnormally dry weather are expected to become an increasingly prominent issue in Massachusetts and can cause crop damage, water supply shortages, and habitat loss.
Global Impacts are Local Impacts
But the direct impacts are unlikely to be the most significant way we are affected by climate change. As we have seen first-hand during the coronavirus pandemic, disruptions far from home quickly show up at our doorstep as large impacts to our economy and security. The 2018 National Climate Assessment concluded that “without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.”
There are many pressing issues that demand our attention, but climate should not be in competition with these topics; rather, it should be integrated into them because it is a threat multiplier, affecting them all.
• When we talk about natural disasters, we should talk about how climate change is making extreme weather more frequent and more dangerous.
• When we talk about wars, in Ukraine, the Middle East, and elsewhere, we need to talk about how our historical dependence on fossil fuels contributes to these conflicts.
• When we talk about cost of living, we need to talk about how the changing climate is increasing the price tag on our food, on our resources, on building supplies, and our insurance rates.
• When we talk about coronavirus, we need to talk about how the air pollution from combusting fossil fuels and from wildfire smoke is making covid more dangerous
• When we talk about the injustices of the world, we need to talk about how the most vulnerable are suffering the greatest consequences from climate change, despite contributing almost nothing to the problem.
Political instability, poverty, refugee crises, food scarcity, conservation, our sports, our homes, our futures – there is no aspect of our lives today that isn’t already being affected by a changing climate. Climate change is a threat multiplier, a corroding thread that is linked to everything in our lives.