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How Climate Change Affects the Mid-Atlantic Region by Kyra Jackson, RHEC III Emerging Professional

posted Aug 28, 2018, 9:25 AM by daniel yoo
In recent years, climate change has accelerated more than ever before, making it one of the greatest challenges the world has ever faced. Natural disasters occurring around the world are obvious markers, but more subtle signs—such as an increase in illnesses—also serve as evidence to climate change. Climate change affects people and areas around the world differently, and the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States has begun to feel the impact of these changes in specific ways.

The states in the Mid-Atlantic Region—Pennsylvania; Delaware; Maryland; Washington, DC; Virginia, and West Virginia—all are states that border and are affected by the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Increases in precipitation over recent years have created tremendous amounts of runoff and pollution in the bay and have led to potential health risks caused by contaminated drinking water and food.

Polluted and contaminated water caused by runoff from local cities and farms has been known to also contaminate private drinking wells near the bay. Water consumed from these wells has contributed to cancer, deformities in infants, and a host of other illnesses for people in the region.

The water also affects the many animals that live in the bay and, in turn, those who eat them. In recent years, residents of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia have been warned not to consume fish from the Chesapeake due to high and unhealthy levels of mercury found in the fish.

While an increase in precipitation due to climate change may seem like a small and meaningless shift, the impact to those affected is serious. If climate change continues to negatively affect the Chesapeake Bay, it is likely that those living in the Mid-Atlantic Region will no longer be able to rely on it.