RUSTON, La. (KNOE) - New data shows 2018 was one of the hottest years on record. Environmental Science professors say Louisiana is at the forefront of climate change in the United States.
"Louisiana has some of the first climate refugees in the world so we have people that are at the very edge where the land meets the sea and they're having to move inland because their land is going underwater,” says Dr. Julia Earl, an Environmental Science professor at Louisiana Tech University.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released their climate data Wednesday revealing 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record.
Scientists say it’s becoming more and more common to hit these records. “The last five years have been the hottest years on record, out of like 150 to 200 years, I mean that's pretty substantial,” says Dr. Earl.
Dr. Earl says climate change is occurring faster in the present than it did between the ice ages. She says in the next 10 to 20 years “we'll see sea level rise, we're going to see more hurricanes, we're going to see more extreme weather both cold and hot."
She says the effects of climate change will vary across the country too. "Different parts of the country we may see more flooding, we may see more droughts, we may see more forest fires,” says Dr. Earl.
Dr. Earl says not only are people feeling the effects but so are animals. She says she’s been monitoring the temperature in the water as part of her research and says warmer water is a big problem - especially for the trout population.
"There's less oxygen in water if it's a warmer temperature, and so that has obvious problems for fish and amphibians and lots of different aquatic organisms, many of which we rely on for food or recreation,” says Dr. Earl.
She says even recycling one can a day can help the environment, along with conserving energy and saving gas. “If we don't deal with the carbon dioxide and methane emissions, it's just going to be warmer and warmer through time,” says Dr. Earl. “It doesn't mean that every year will be warm but a lot of them will be.”
She also says eating one less meal with meat in it can help the environment too, since cows produce methane. Dr. Earl says our lifestyles contribute to how much pollutants we emit, so just slightly changing one’s lifestyle can really go a long way to helping the environment.