With more than 270 million cars and trucks, the USA’s transport sector is the second largest contributor (29%) to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Over 90% of these vehicles use petroleum-based fuel.
Florida is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Because of its coastal location, many cities in Florida are vulnerable to rising sea levels. This means that it is at risk of more frequent and intense flooding, erosion and saltwater intrusion which can affect agriculture, water supply and the natural environment.
Hurricane Katrina hit the south-eastern part of the USA in August 2005. It was the costliest natural disaster to hit the USA ever and resulted in 1,245 deaths. It is predicted that the wind speeds and rainfall associated with tropical cyclones will increase in a warming world.
Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the world. Its 9000km2 land area goes across three states: Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. It is also home to many wildlife including 67 species of mammals, and over 300 species of birds.
More than half of US oil output is now extracted through fracking. This boosted oil industry production from 102,000 barrels of oil per day in 2000 to 12.5 million barrels per day in 2019. However, the process of fracking has resulted in large number of oil spills which can cause environmental damage. Source: Flickr / Tim Evanson
The transition from President Obama to President Trump has marked a significant change in the country’s position on climate change. In 2016, Obama agreed to sign the Paris Agreement to legally bind the USA to reduce its carbon emissions. In 2019, the USA began to withdraw from the agreement. However, 23 states have formed the United States Climate Alliance and committed to meet or exceed the targets of the Agreement.
Consumer spending continues to rise in the USA. An average household spends about $60,000 or about £49,000 per year. Although high consumption is economically good, it puts pressure on natural resources where products are made and generates waste. Source: Flickr / Diariocritico de Venezuela
More than 1,200 tornadoes develop across the US every year. Most of them occur in the Southern states bordering the Gulf of Mexico such as Texas, Kansas, and Florida. The damage caused by tornadoes could increase as the climate warms. Source: Flickr / Lane Pearman
Wheat is the third most grown field crop in the USA after corn and soybean but has been declining. The U.S. share of global wheat exports have gone down from 25% in 2005 to 15% in 2016. Research shows that rising temperatures have contributed to a decline in wheat production. Source: Flickr / Tobin
California’s hot and dry climate leads to frequent droughts. Recently, droughts have become more extreme with record-high temperatures and record-low levels of precipitation. This impacts water supply and water quality, wildlife, wild fires and agriculture. In an extreme drought event in 2016, some reservoir levels were at 10% of normal capacity. Source: Flickr / Linda Tanner
Further Materials (higher level learners) – United States of America
- Climate Transparency country profile
- Climate change in the US from the Guardian.
- USA’s emission history and projections from Climate Action Tracker.
- USA’s self-assessment of its vulnerability to climate change, submitted to the UNFCC in 2016
- YouTube clips of President Obama addressing COP21 and Donald Trump before his election.
- Climate change impact assessment from the USA government (pre 2017).
- USA withdrawal from the 2015 Climate Change Agreement