Researchers say that if carbon dioxide emissions remain at their current levels in the United States, this will have huge, negative implications for the majority of Americans in the foreseeable future.
Matthew Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland and Robert Dunn of North Carolina State University have described what climate North American cities may have in 2080 if emissions remain unmitigated. Their study covers 540 urban areas which, collectively, are home to roughly 250 million people, including over three-quarters of the US population and more than half of Canada's population.
"We find that if emissions continue to rise throughout the 21st century, the climate of North American urban areas will become, on average, most like the contemporary climate of locations 850 km away and mainly to the south," they warn.
By the 2080s, as per the study, North American urban dwellers would feel "substantially different" than today in terms of climate, which is expected to become "warmer and wetter in all seasons", more like the humid subtropical climates typical of parts of the US Midwest or Southeast.
A warmer and wetter climate would prompt species that today are living in the southeastern US to move northwards — and bring unusual diseases to these areas. "In instances where these new residents are disease vectors (e.g., Asian Tiger mosquitoes and West Nile Virus), urban areas could experience increased incidence of disease."
In practice, the expected climate change means that Americans would have to drive nearly 1,000 kilometres to reach a city with a similar climate to the one they have today in their city.
The research is meant to raise awareness of environmental changes among the population, which generally resides in urban areas.
The majority of citizens appear to be struggling to grasp the abstract and remote predictions used by scientists; with this in mind, Fitzpatrick and Dunn say that abstract predictions should be expressed in terms of concrete personal experiences to help the public recognise the perils of climate change.
Not everyone in the United States appears to be supportive of the fight against climate change. Donald Trump, who pulled the US out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, has disputed a government report saying that the national economy would suffer to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century due to the climate crisis.
A new proposal, called the Green New Deal, has emerged in a bid to reverse global warming. The initiative, initially promoted in Congress by freshman Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, is outlines plans to incorporate different projects and includes a call for the US to meet 100 percent of its energy needs from zero-emission energy sources within 10 years as well as de-carbonise the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.
As of 13 February, it has 67 co-sponsors and the support of 11 House committees, but Republicans have already criticised the proposals as being heavy-handed and anti-business. Donald Trump quipped: "I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called 'Carbon Footprint' to permanently eliminate all planes, cars, cows, oil, gas and the military — even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant!"