The Impact of Global Warming on North Carolina

Article excerpt

Background

The Science of Climate Change In North Carolina

It has been established that the most common greenhouse gases on earth include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapor, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (1998); Wilensky and Kane (2008). These gases have increased significantly in the 20th century partly because of human activities. The increase in global carbon dioxide concentration is the result of land use changes and various uses of fossil fuels (IPCC, 2007). Figure 1 shows atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration at Mauna Loa Observatory from 1960 to 2010.

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Robinson et al. (2007) argue that the current warming trend is due to climate variation and not because of human activities. William Schlesinger noted in the Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change (LCGCC) report that a correlation between carbon dioxide levels and temperature exists and supported the theory that the rise in carbon dioxide levels is due to human activities including burning of fossil fuel and forest destruction. Schlesinger cited a statement from the American Geophysical Union which states that the temperature of the earth is warming and that warming is caused by humans.

Methodology

The research for this paper used data gathering methods. The first method was a review of North Carolina Climate Commission reports and notes taken during commission meetings. The author was a member of the commission. The second was a review of University task force reports and notes. The author was a member of the task force. The third was a review of literature on global climate change. Fourth, a review of local newspaper reports and observations of climate impacts.

Research Questions

1. How important is global warming impact to North Carolina Legislators?

2. Do colleges and universities have a role in addressing global warming?

3. What are the lines of evidence to support global warming impacts on North Carolina?

4. How can this paper advance the knowledge of global warming?

Research Question 1

Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change (LCGCC)

The North Carolina General Assembly Session Law 2005-442 established the Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change, LCGCC (2005). The commission was made up of thirty four (34) members. The commission was appointed by the leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly to study issues related to global warming; emerging carbon economy; need for global warming pollutant reduction goal and developing recommended goal if necessary. The Commission ended in May 2010, when the final report was adopted. The Commission's work was supported by professionals from the

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Commerce, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and researchers from institutions of higher education in the State (Appalachian State University, Duke University, East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Additionally, national and international experts from several organizations were invited to commission meetings to provide expert opinions on climate change. It was noted in the commission report that actions taken by the states can have a significant effect on global greenhouse gas levels. States have a role in addressing climate change. Stanley Riggs was cited in the LCGCC report that the impact of climate change on eastern North Carolina could be dramatic where elevation in some places is less than 0.6 meter above sea level. Riggs noted that sea levels are predicted to rise 0.9 meter per century, which could cause North Carolina to lose thirty to forty percent of its Coastal Plain leading to significant loss of land. …

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