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The Impact of Droughts, Storms, and Other Recent Extreme Weather Events

What’s all this talk about the drought? And why are the size of storms increasing? Well, bad news is that both the drought and the dramatic increase in the size of storms, are both devastating climate changes we are facing and their impact will affect us immediately.

218 counties name drought-affected disaster areas

For many years now, scientists have been predicting that man-made global warming would have devastating impacts on droughts and dust storms in the Southwest and around the world because of the combined effects of warming, drying and the melting of snow and ice. And this summer alone we’ve experienced the brutal effects of  climate change, which fuels extreme weather.

Here are some (not so fun) facts on recent extreme weather and climate change:

  • More than 25,000 new record highs have been set this year alone across the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • The current drought, the worst in a generation, covers more than half of the continental United States.
  • January-June 2012 was the warmest first half of any year on record in the contiguous United States.
  • Extremely hot summers around the world, like the one we’re experiencing right now in the United States, are now 40 times more frequent than they were 40 years ago.
  • Extreme downpours in the United States are now happening 30 percent more often than in the mid-twentieth century.
  • In 2011 alone, the United States experienced 14 weather disasters totaling over $50 billion in damage.
  • During the last 10 years, the United States has experienced twice as many record highs as record lows. By 2050, scientists project that record highs will outnumber record lows by 20 to 1.
  • Each new decade since the 1970s has been hotter than the last, with 2000-2010 the hottest on record so far.
  • 4 out of 5 Americans now live in counties where recent natural disasters have occurred, with twice as many people living in a county where an official disaster was declared last year compared to 2001.

And no surprise here- our food systems are contributing to the problem. Currently food products in America travel an average of 1,500 from point of production to the consumer.  Transporting foods these great distances, using trucks, trains, ships and planes, contributes significantly to America’s carbon footprint, and in turn to global warming.  Transporting foods long distances requires that they be gassed, injected, or chemically preserved to maintain the appearance of freshness.

So after reading all that bad news, the question is, what’s the solution? The only response to these horrific climate changes is to reduce carbon pollution, and yes there are ways to do just that, and you can be part of the solution!

By joining the Hazon New York Ride, you are riding in support of sustainable food systems and reducing your carbon footprint one bike at a time. Making your bike a part of your transportation arsenal is a catalyst for change and registering for the New York Ride, training, and riding that weekend is a great first step. And all ride proceeds go to promoting Hazon’s efforts to create healthier and more sustainable communities, with 60-70% of funds raised go to Hazon’s year round food programs, 10-15% of funds being awarded as grants to external organization and programs that share Hazon’s missions, and 20-25% going to cover the costs of the ride itself.

And it’s not too late to join! The 12th annual New York Ride & Retreat is this Labor Day weekend, August 31- September 3, 2012. Register here.