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Crowley: On Long Island, a heat wave is just the start of climate change
Average temperatures have been on the rise for the the past three decades, and the recent heat wave has only exacerbated Long Islanders’ hopes for a cooler July this year.
One day — July 18 — is the hottest day, on average, for Long Island every year, with a mean temperature of 82 degrees. But for July 18, 2013 the average was 86.5, above the mean for sure and a lot hotter than in the 73 degrees recorded last year.
Not only was Thursday’s temperature higher, this entire month seems to be reflecting the overall trend. The average temperature for July was 72.6 in 1984, but 76.2 in 2012, according the National Weather Service, which has been tracking climate change on Long Island since 1984.
The increasing monthly temperatures have not been an uninterrupted march; during some years the average monthly temperatures were lower than the previous year’s monthly temperatures. However, the rising average should have us worried. Currently, the average temperature of this July is 79.5, one degree higher than last July’s average of 78.5. Neither a higher monthly or daily average, or even this sizzling heat wave, by themselves prove anything. But they are worrisome. Though not proved, increasingly scientific evidence does suggest that human activity is altering our climate, causing extreme weather, and for Long Islanders, higher average temperatures.
Because of the nation’s languishing efforts in switching to alternative fuel and energy, temperatures could get even higher. This could have a more profound effect than having to put on extra sunscreen at the beach. According to National Geographic magazine, sea levels could rise 2.5 to 6.5 feet by 2100, enough to engulf most of Long Island. Other studies claim the sea level could rise an even greater amount by that time.
Why wait for more ironclad proof before we start acting to curb climate change? The evidence shows that it is getting hotter each year, which means its time to reduce carbon emissions and prepare ourselves for a warmer climate.
Long Islanders have to become more cognizant of the damage they are most likely doing. Unless we do, Long Island won’t be an island for future generations.
Patrick Crowley is a Newsday Opinion intern and a high school student on Long Island.