Between scenic rolling mountains in the Shenandoah National Park and bustling beaches at Virginia Beach, Virginia has attractions that adventurous hikers and seaside tourists enjoy year-round. However, Virginia’s nature is now in jeopardy due to the growing threat of climate change.
For owners of oceanfront houses, challenges arise because these properties are at a higher risk of flooding and erosion during severe storms. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study found that Virginia’s sea levels are rising at a faster rate than most of the country because the land around the area is sinking. The EPA predicts that if Virginia continues warming at its current rate, sea levels could rise up to four feet this century.
As Vicki Arroyo, the Executive Director of the Georgetown University’s Climate Center advises, “the vulnerability of Virginia to rising seas, floods, and escalating temperatures is no longer a problem for the distant future. It is affecting us in the here and now, and it is up to all of us to prepare for the changes taking place.” Especially because agriculture is the state's largest industry, generating $27 billion for Virginia’s economy, rising temperatures pose an urgent threat to livestock, crop water supply, and invasive species that thrive in warmth.
After studying the coronavirus, climate scientists recently warned that further environmental destruction could create another devastating pandemic. Coronavirus and the climate crisis have upended societies worldwide and will cause chaos in the future unless action is taken immediately. For Virginia, who is already grappling with the consequences of climate change, there is no time waste.