Three Ways Climate Change Impacts New Jersey

As a volunteer at Reeves-Reed Arboretum this fall (my local Arboretum, of which I’m also a member!), I was asked to write a blog post about how climate change impacts the great Garden State. Read below!


Climate change, the rise of global temperatures on Earth, can be attributed to the increase of humans using fossil fuels. The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can rise from many sources, including pollution from coal plants for electricity generation and the transportation industry in the form of car exhaust. And as the world warms from these emissions, we can see impacts all around us.

Climate change, the rise of global temperatures on Earth, can be attributed to the increase of humans using fossil fuels. The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can rise from many sources, including pollution from coal plants for electricity generation and the transportation industry in the form of car exhaust. And as the world warms from these emissions, we can see impacts all around us

Here are the top three ways climate change impacts us here in New Jersey.

More Extreme Weather and Heavy Downpours

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An increase in greenhouse gases in our atmosphere means more available water, which means an increase in heavy precipitation events — or heavy downpours. We can see this trend prominently in the Northeast, including in New Jersey, which you may have noticed this spring and summer. With heavy rain comes flash floods, which can lead to property damage, which you may have even seen at your own home.

Billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, are increasing, too. Four out of 11 billion-dollar disasters so far this year were in the Northeast — the Northeast winter storms of January and March and the severe weather we experienced from May 1-5 and 13-15 made the list of some of the the costliest disasters in the whole country this year so far.

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Sea Level Rise

Climate change is also increasing the frequency of coastal flooding and storm surge at properties down the shore. From Climate Central: “The combination of water expansion as the ocean has warmed and the melting of land ice into the oceans has driven sea level up about seven inches since 1900, and the rise is accelerating.”

The amount of sea level rise in the future depends on our emissions, but coastal flooding is already affecting coastal communities in New Jersey, and property values are already being affected.

Shifting Seasons

You may have noticed the weather this year changed the timing of our fall foliage here in New Jersey — even here at the Arboretum! The timing of fall foliage is impacted by temperature, sunlight, and rainfall, so you can blame this year’s delay on climate change. Falls have been warming since the 1970’s, which can delay the peak fall foliage we come to know and love in the Garden State!  

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Summer is also lasting longer, which can “take a toll on health and air quality,” according to Climate Central. Longer summers can lead to shorter winters, which means pests like ticks and mosquitoes stick along longer, too. Yikes!

ICYMI: Important Stories from the Beginning of February

February has been a busy month in environmental news ALREADY, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Below is a list of them, in case you missed it.

Keystone XL protest poster

1. Keystone XL Receives Backing – last week, a group of US lawmakers voiced their approval of the Keystone XL pipeline (in case you missed it, here is a post I wrote last April). According to recent news from Reuters, these backers are suggesting that President Obama “bless” the pipeline’s plan. The group includes Gary Doer, Canadian ambassador to the United States (as the driving company is TransCanada), and business and labor leaders. This pressure is due to a State Department report released that concludes that the Keystone XL “pipeline would not spur oil sands development or unduly worsen climate change” (read the report here). As this is a developing story, I will write another post about it at a later date.

2. Drought in California Causes Dip in Water Reserves – over the past few weeks, a drought in California has exhausted reservoirs and has been dipping dangerously into ground water supply for drinking water, according to the Circle of Blue. According to the article, some communities in California are slated to lose water in 60-100 days. According to the Sacramento Bee, “deliveries of state water to agricultural and municipal users south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which had been slashed to 5 percent earlier, will drop further to zero due to the state’s severe drought.” So, not only are they depleting current water sources, but Southern California is also depleting the resources of Northern California watersheds. This is a huge problem.

3. If it’s so cold, how is climate change real? – Without me having to go into a rant, this article explains how YOU explain to your friends that a polar vertex still means that global warming is happening and climate change is real. Check out this post by Grist: “How to talk to your polar-vortexed friends.”

4. India is building the world’s largest solar plant which will cover an area larger than Manhattan. According to Nature News, this project “could help to reduce India’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 4 million tonnes per year.”

5. Dan River (North Carolina) Coal Ash Spill – On Sunday afternoon, a coal ash pipe broke, sending about 50,000-82,000 tons of the pollutant into the Dan River in North Carolina. According to the Huffington Post, officials (including the culprit, Duke Energy) say that the coal ash has not tarnished drinking water supplies and will release more after extensive testing has been done.

Stay tuned for expansions on the Keystone XL pipeline debate.