The same day snow flurried around the state, the nonprofit Island Press published a study that reviewed the potential impact of global warming on South Carolina industries and environment.
The study paints an apocalyptic picture for the state: super hurricanes, beaches swept away by rising tides, fishing industry loss, and more disease. The study was first reported by The State newspaper on Wednesday.
As the November snow swirled and quickly melted, one of the study’s 100 authors did not lose sight of the irony. University of South Carolina professor Dr. Kirsten Dow kept a good humor about the snow but said it doesn’t reflect the long-term trends she and other climate scientists are using for their predictions.
“It happens a lot with climate. It’s also supposed to be very warm this weekend. Things happens both ways. And its really the long term trends we’re looking at, not the day-to-day noise,” Dow told South Carolina Radio Network. “It’s one day out of a much broader trend.”
“Climate of the Southeast” is one of nine studies looking at regions and projecting climate change impact. The report looks at 11 states in the region.
“It’s the most comprehensive look to date at the effect of climate change on the southeast United States. There’s really nothing else like it,” Dow said.
“There’s already a enormous amount of climate variability that’s affecting the southeast,” Dow said. She said increases in temperatures and rainfall are two examples.
Dow predicted that, by mid-century, most of South Carolina could gain another month of summer temperatures. That could affect air quality, working conditions, living conditions and more, she said.
She also said sea level is expected to rise about 3 feet.
“We depend on those estuaries for our fisheries and our ports … Our beaches are going to be influenced by changing sea levels, and those are tied to our important tourism industry. These things have significant implications on our lives in the southeast,” Dow said.
Dow said her report didn’t focus on causation, but rather it focused on informing and finding solutions.
“It’s hard to say if that is absolutely due to anthropogenic (man-made) climate change or whether we are looking at the natural variability in a very, very real system,” Dow said.