See How Climate Change Will Affect Your City Over the Next 30 Years

iStock/KarenHBlack
iStock/KarenHBlack

Most of us are well aware that the Earth is getting warmer. But it’s often hard to imagine how that future will feel. Vox recently tried to put the scary statistics into context by visualizing how winters and summers in 1000 cities all over the U.S. will change over the next 30 years or so.

The infographic lets you type in the name of the city nearest you, then visualizes the change between the average summer high and winter low between 2000 and 2050. New York City, for instance, had a summer high of 83.1° F in 2000, but 30 years from now, in 2050, that number will rise to 87.9°F. Winter in the city will be warmer, too, rising from a 28.5°F low in 2000 to a 32.6°F low in 2050.

Those changes may not seem that big, but those are just averages, and don’t tell the full story. There will be more heat waves and other extreme weather events, more dramatic shifts from periods of rain to periods of drought, and other changes that go beyond mere temperatures. These changes will vary from city to city—northern areas are warming faster than southern ones—but overall, many cities will start to feel like their southern counterparts do today.

Within the Vox visualization, you can explore projections for how populations and temperatures will change in different cities, including the ones expected to warm the most and the least over the next 30 or so years. (Oakland is looking good right now, but you may not want to move to Fargo.) You can also see how each city’s year-long temperature and precipitation forecasts are expected to change month to month.

It’s a bleak reality. In addition to changing the weather, agriculture, animal populations, and natural landscapes, climate change will effect what world heritage sites you’ll still be able to see, what wine you’ll be able to drink, what trees you’ll be able to plant in your yard, and so much more.

Explore how your hometown could change over on Vox.

The Tree That Inspired Dr. Seuss's The Lorax Has Fallen Over

Rhododendrites, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0
Rhododendrites, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

The Truffula trees at the center of The Lorax may have been a product of Dr. Seuss's imagination, but it's believed they were inspired by a real-life tree in La Jolla, California. Nearly 50 years after the environmental parable was published, Smithsonian reports that the iconic Monterey cypress has fallen.

The tree had grown for 80 to 100 years in what is today Ellen Browning Scripps Park in Southern California. It was clearly visible from the observation tower where Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, lived in La Jolla following World War II.

While the children's book author and illustrator never stated that the tree inspired his work, locals started referring to it as "The Lorax Tree." The resemblance it bears to Seuss's Truffula is undeniable: Both have skinny trunks with whimsical curves and thick, fluffy canopies of foliage concentrated at the top.

In The Lorax, the Truffula trees are threatened by the Once-ler, who wants to chop them down and turn them into garments called Thneeds. The title character "speaks for the trees" and conveys the book's environmentalist message.

Unlike the Truffula, La Jolla's Monterey cypress appeared to be in no danger until it recently toppled over. Arborists aren't sure what caused the collapse, as they hadn't noticed any prior health issues with the tree except for some termites. The past year's uncharacteristically wet winter and the effect it had on the surrounding soil may have played a role, so experts are looking into that possibility.

Most of the tree has been removed from the area, and the city plans to plant another tree in its place. There are also plans to salvage and repurpose the trunk from the fallen tree, though they haven't been made official.

[h/t Smithsonian]

Tourists Are Picking Apart Britain's Oldest Tree

Paul Hermans, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The Fortingall Yew in the Fortingall churchyard in Perthshire, Scotland has seen a lot. Since it started growing at least 2000 years ago, it's been present for the Roman settlement of Scotland, the shift from paganism to Christianity, and the country's induction into the United Kingdom. But after standing for millennia, the ancient tree is facing its greatest threat yet. Tourists are removing twigs and branches from the tree to take home as souvenirs, and the tree is under so much stress that it's spontaneously changing sexes, Atlas Obscura reports.

Because of how the tree grows, it's hard to date the Fortingall Yew precisely. It comprises several separate trunks that have hollowed out over the years, making it easier for the tree to support itself in its old age. Based on historical measurements and 19th-century ring counts, the yew has been around for at least two millennia, but it could date back as far as 5000 years. That makes it the oldest tree in Britain and one of the oldest living things in Europe.

That impressive title means the tree gets a lot of visitors, not all of whom are concerned with extending its lifespan even longer. A stone and iron wall built in the Victorian era encloses the tree, but that hasn't stopped people from climbing over it to break off pieces or leave behind keepsakes like beads and ribbons.

As the abuse adds up, the tree has responded in concerning ways. It sprouted red berries this spring, a sign that the tree is transitioning to a different sex for the first time in its life. Yew trees are either male or female, and sex changes among the species are incredibly rare and misunderstood. Some botanists believe it's a reaction to stress. The change may be a survival mechanism intended to increase the specimen's chances of reproducing.

Scientists aren't sure why this particular yew, which was formerly male, sprouted berries on its upper branches, an exclusively female characteristic, but they've collected the berries to study them. The seeds from the berries will be preserved as part of a project to protect the genetic diversity of yew trees across the globe.

In the mean time, caretakers of the Fortingall Yew are imploring visitors to be respectful of the tree and keep their hands to themselves.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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