The Effects of Climate Change Being Felt in Nashville
Blake Catlett | February 7, 2023
Climate change is an increasingly worrying issue affecting the world’s population. Over the past few decades, humans have seen the detrimental effects of an accelerated shift in weather patterns. Many issues arise from this shift, such as rising sea levels and widespread local droughts. The ongoing climate crisis is affecting Nashville and the Vanderbilt community in several ways. As students, it is important for us to examine these issues and consider what actions can be taken to ameliorate these climate consequences.
Effects of climate change
Climate change is affecting Nashville and the globe in many different ways. The most pronounced and obvious: increasing temperatures are felt around the globe, and high temperatures in Nashville are no longer surprising. Extreme heat is being observed by climate scientists more often than before, and the ceiling for extreme temperature keeps rising. Nashville’s metropolitan area has also experienced higher average temperatures than its surrounding rural areas due to the urban heat island effect. This is because high concentration of man-made structures in urban areas can re-emit heat from the sun more than natural landscapes do, hence creating a hotter environment. This phenomenon then generates a “heat trap” in urban areas, where the temperatures are observed to be consistently several degrees higher than rural areas in the vicinity.
Climate change is leading to weather changes. To clarify, weather is the short-term changes and aspects of the atmosphere while climate concerns long-term patterns in weather in a specific area. Besides a pronounced increase in temperature, Nashville has also encountered an increasing amount of storms that are far more intense than before. This, in turn, leads to an increase in flooding accompanied by heavy rainfall. Some evidence suggests that the warming of the climate could create more atmospheric instability, where warm moist air comes into contact with air that is significantly cooler and drier. Increased atmospheric instability is a possible cause for more fierce and frequent tornadoes.
On a more biotic aspect, the warmer climate extends mosquito’s growing season. Data from Climate Central show that the average growing period of mosquitoes since 2006 is 11 days longer than it was recorded in the 1980s. As the growing period extends, the mosquito population expands. This phenomenon not only brings irritation to the masses but also an aggregated risk to mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever and malaria.
Ways to Fight Climate Change in Nashville
There are many ways to combat the heat brought on by the changing climate and island effect. One solution is to expand the city’s greenery and canopy coverage. Reducing the amount of pavement in the city can also help to cool the temperature. Moving an increasing amount of personal automobiles off the roads, it helps the city become more walkable, bikeable and accessible for public transport.
Reducing the amount of flooding events is also key in the climate response. Restoring landscapes near natural water sources can prevent overflowing. Moreover, increasing green and tree coverage helps fight flooding events. Green infrastructure such as green roofs or rain gardens is another key utility against floods.
There are many strategies to fight against climate change. Responses can be localized and tailored to optimize the condition of specific areas. A proper climatic response should also include considerations for marginalized groups. Since low income communities and people of color already face inequities, not considering the effects of climate change for them would only expand existing inequities.
Vanderbilt’s Efforts Against Climate Change
Vanderbilt is making striving efforts to combat climate change and the issues arising from it. The Advancing Solutions in Climate and Ecological Needs and Discoveries (ASCEND) Initiative aims for scientific solutions and awareness of climate and ecological issues. The ASCEND Initiative page offers a variety of information on climate changes and its consequences and strategies that people can utilize to create positive change. The Initiative provides a variety of opportunities for students to contribute, learn, and discover more about the interconnected systems of biodiversity, climate change, chemical pollution, and soil and human health. Some of these opportunities include immersive undergraduate participation, K-12 science kits for school, and community-supported science collaborations. As part of the initiative, Vanderbilt has recently committed to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2023 and zero waste by 2030.
Some challenges are best approached together. The climate crisis is a perpetual issue, but the efforts being made worldwide can decrease and might eventually eliminate the negative impacts. Mitigating the climate crisis will take time, so it is essential to investigate and propagate knowledge on how to deal with the negative effects of climate change while we wait for the climate crisis to concede.
Personal measures can go a long way in the fight against climate change. Reducing one’s own waste, energy consumption, and carbon footprint can go a long way if performed en masse. A lot of these changes can be simple: choosing silverware over disposable cutlery, walking or biking instead of utilizing an automobile, and turning off electronics when not in use. Vocalizing about the issue can also go a long way. The more people that are aware of the climate crisis, the more power that is held in the fight against it.
“Climate Change.” ASCEND Initiative, https://as.vanderbilt.edu/gci-ascend/climate-change/. Accessed 18 Dec. 2022.
“Nashville Heat Mapping Campaign.” Nashville.Gov, https://www.nashville.gov/departments/mayor/sustainability-resilience-environment/nashville-heat-mapping. Accessed 18 Dec. 2022.
Tennessee’s Climate Threats. http://statesatrisk.org/tennessee/all. Accessed 18 Dec. 2022.
US EPA, OAR. Heat Island Effect. 28 Feb. 2014, https://www.epa.gov/heatislands.
WHAT CLIMATE CHANGE MEANS FOR NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE AND HOW YOU CAN HELP. Cumberland River Compact, https://cumberlandrivercompact.org/2021/09/15/climate-change-nashville-tennessee/.