While many people understand climate change as the eventual consequence of current, damaging practices, the harsh reality is that its worst effects are already here.
Each year, the weather becomes more extreme, droughts become more severe, and temperatures reach deadly, record highs.
Still, for many, the effects of climate change are too abstract to motivate the kind of radical action that our planet needs
But recent data from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science makes it at least a little easier to comprehend the dramatic changes in store for Canadian cities.
TL;DR According to data and an map from the University of Maryland, Toronto and Montreal will feel more like the Jersey Shore by 2080. Go to the bottom of the article for a link to th interactive map.
The Centre's interactive map allows users to compare future urban climates with current climates of municipalities in North America.
By 2080, for example, Toronto will feel more like Seacaucus, New Jersey, which has winters that are, according to the map, on average 8.9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than those in Canada's largest city.
The 2080 Montreal climate will also feel more like the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States — specifically, Chester, Pennsylvania, just inland from the Jersey Shore.
Temperature changes in Western Canada will be perhaps less striking but no less devastating. Vancouver, for instance, will feel like Seattle, Washington by 2080.
These are worst-case climate scenarios. The map also allows users to view a future with significantly reduced emissions. In that case, Montreal will feel more like the southern shore of Lake Michigan.
But the projections offered by this map are perhaps too rosy. While Jersey Shore-like weather in Toronto and Montreal may seem lovely, such extreme shifts could decimate local ecologies.
The map, a simplistic view of climate change, conveniently leaves out some of the most tragic events to come.
You can explore the map from the University of Maryland here.