Other Key Questions to be Addressed:
Why does Climate Change cause extreme weather events?
How do these weather events (heavy rainstorms, thunderstorms, etc.) affect the environment and ecosystems of my community in central Connecticut, USA?
What solutions can be implemented to reduce the impact of these extreme weather events on our environments?
Affect on my Community’s Environment:
Now seen around the world, these extreme weather events amplified by Climate Change impact everybody’s way of life. More intense hurricanes in the South-east USA and Caribbean islands have devastated people’s livelihoods and destroyed homes; monsoons in Southeast Asia have caused extreme flooding and displacement (Yasir). Both of these examples are extreme versions of the ways these extreme weather events affect people’s lives, but more minor impacts of events (on local and regional levels) are also relevant to our responses to Climate Change.
Over the years, rainfall in my community of central Connecticut has become less frequent, yet more powerful due to the warming oceans and atmosphere (Climate Change Indicators: Heavy Precipitation). The powerful rainstorms have two major effects on the lake ecosystem in my neighborhood: algal blooms, and a shallower lake. Both of these broad impacts of extreme rain then go on to affect other aspects of the ecosystem and community.
Algal Blooms and Depleted Oxygen:
Extreme rainstorms have the ability to wash loose soil, construction material, and other particles into the storm drain and lake at a higher rate than rainstorms of regular intensities and frequencies. These particles of soil, rock, concrete and other materials add extra nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients to the soil that are essential to algal growth. Therefore, due to more extreme weather events, more nutrients are washed into the lake, causing more intense algal blooms.
These algal blooms do two major things: block sunlight from reaching the bottom of the lake preventing plant growth, and deplete oxygen levels. In my neighborhood’s lake, the only issue is the depleted oxygen levels because there are minimal aquatic plants.
The algae only live for a short period of time, and when they die, they sink to the bottom of the lake and decompose. This decomposition occurs aerobically (using oxygen), which depletes the dissolved oxygen levels in the lake overall. Because there is less dissolved oxygen in the lake, aquatic life like fish die. The fish begin to rot and smell, which is not appealing to the residents and visitors to the neighborhood.
The dead algae at the bottom of the lake also gradually layer and make the lake shallower, which is another issue caused by these extreme weather events.
Silt Making the Lake Shallower:
Besides the algal blooms and impacts that come with them, the runoff from these extreme storms (and decomposing algae) constantly adds layers of sediment to the bottom of the lake, slowly making it shallower. In my neighborhood’s lake specifically, this is an issue because our lake is quite shallow, to begin with. The addition of sediment to the lake creates an issue where recreation like kayaking, swimming, and other activities might not be possible in the future due to the lake’s depth. The lake is a special calm haven or secluded oasis in my town, so it would be sad to see it turn into a swamp as it becomes shallower.
A Widespread Issue:
This issue, that extreme weather events caused by climate change cause algal blooms and harm the local environment, is not specific to my community. I use my community as an example because it is a place that I know well, and where I see the effects of the issue I explained above daily. I am sure that you have noticed increasingly extreme weather events in your community– try to think of the effects of these weather events on your community’s ecosystem.
My Response and Solutions:
My solutions to the issue of the effects of extreme weather on my community’s ecosystem are to educate and to organize.
To educate the members of my community, I created an informational pamphlet and video (which I will send to the members of my community) explaining why our ecosystem is negatively impacted by climate change’s extreme weather events and steps that they can take to reduce their own impact on our ecosystem and climate change.
One of the main problems associated with these extreme weather events is that they wash excess silt and soil into the storm drains in my neighborhood. Not only does this excess silt wash into the lake through the storm drains, making the lake gradually shallower, but the excess silt also causes the storm drains to clog.
My plan is to create an “adopt-a-drain.” In this system, the residents of a group of homes that surround a storm drain would be in charge of checking if the storm drain near their houses is clogged. When people go on walks, runs, or do other activities outside, it would be simple to check on the storm drains. If the drain is clogged, they will notify the community association so that the town can be contacted to clean out the drain. Through this program, less silt will be washed into the lake due to extreme weather events reducing the algal blooms and reducing the rate at which the lake becomes shallower.
Climate change is changing our planet in many ways, and extreme weather is only one of them. I chose to use extreme weather as the basis for this presentation because it is an effect of climate change that I can see in my neighborhood today. It is admittedly very difficult to have a connection to something that feels so distant, and that is often the case for Climate Change. So, I think that for society to begin and make changes to help with Climate Change people need to find connections to this issue in their community. Extreme weather events affect my community, but in your community, another effect of Climate Change like fires or flooding might be doing more damage. If people have a connection to an issue in their own life, they will probably be more likely to act to solve the issue.
How Does All of This Apply to You and Your Community?
In the comments below, please think about and reply using the following prompts:
- What is an effect of Climate Change that you see in your community?
- What changes can you make to have a better impact on your local environment, keeping in mind the effect of Climate Change you see in your area?
- In my pamphlet and video, I gave some examples of things you can do to reduce your impact on Climate Change. Do you do any of these already? Which new one(s) could you implement? What others can you think of that I did not include?