Several years ago for a report, I was asked to reflect on my life and how climate change has affected me personally.
This took a great deal of thought at first as I tried to wrap my mind around the concepts of climate change we were taught in our courses and how they applied to my life thus far. Temperature change, melting polar ice caps, increasing greenhouse gasses, burning and clearing of forests – it all seemed too “big” to apply to my ideal childhood in southeastern Virginia.
Reflecting back on those days in our childhood, we can all remember our relationship with nature. My summers were spent crabbing on the dock, walking knee-deep in the mud flats and trekking through the woods near my parents’ home. When we went back-to-school shopping, we looked for turtlenecks and sweaters in late August and early September.
Then it dawned on me – since I was a child, I’ve seen quite a few trends that could be related to climate change.
That same dock where I went crabbing is almost always underwater at high tide. Before, this only happened during spring tides. The mudflats never appear anymore. When I look around in stores during back-to-school season, I don’t see any more cords and sweaters this time of year – kids are buying much lighter gear.
It may be true that riverbeds shift and weather trends constantly change. But did the average tide increase in height due to rising sea level just enough to cover the dock during normal tides? Did the temperature go up just enough that we dress a little cooler in September than we did when we were young?
If you ever struggle to relate to a world where the climate is really changing, think of the little things you have experienced throughout your life. Each of us has a story that we can relate to climate change. I wonder, what stories will my children have to tell when they are my age? Will they say that the climate experts were right and “science fiction” was a reality? Or will they proudly look back and say that when it was time to turn the tables, we stepped up and affected change?
Kat Powers is the Online Marketing Manager at Conservation International