Those doubting the somber threat global warming poses for all of us should do a reality check by going to the U. S. Global Research site (http://globalchange.gov). Mind you, this is a federal government site, which may surprise you as our recent campaign debates neglected the issue of climate change entirely, so you might think it hasn’t any credence for government. Issues like equal pay for women, while important, hardly merit sequestering the most salient challenge of our time.
Although the Climate Assessment Report, available for downloading at the site, is in draft format, it still packs a punch in its focused details, drawing on more than 240 experts. After review by the National Academies of Sciences and the public, it will be revised, then submitted to the Federal Government for potential inclusion in the Third National Climate Assessment Report to the President and the Congress, required every four years under the Global Change Research Act of 1990.
My intent here is to focus on the report’s introductory overview highlighting its primary findings, keeping in mind we’re dealing with a draft. Specifics are developed within the downloaded document at large and, I must emphasize, are disturbing in their implications for all life on this planet. The bottomline is that we should be on a war-footing in regard to global warming, doing all we can to delay or marginalize its stark consequences. How likely is this given a partisan, intransigent Congress and a constituency still largely insensitive to the implications of climate change? Talk about a program that will put people back to work, this is it!
From Letter to the American People (Jan 11, 2013)
“Climate change, once considered an issue for a disant future, has moved firmly into the present. This report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee concludes that the evidence for a changing climate has strengthened considerably since the last National Climate Assessment report, written in 2009. Many more impacts of human-caused climate change have now been observed. Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience. So, too, have coastal planners from Florida to Maine, water managers in the arid southwest and parts of the Southeast, and Native Americans on tribal lands across the nation.
Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours, though in many regions there are longer dry spells in between.
Other changes are even more dramatic. Residents of some coastal cities see their streets flood more regularly during storms and high tides. Inland cities near large rivers also experience more flooding, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. Hotter and drier weather and earlier snow melt mean that wildfires in the West start earlier in the year, last later into the fall, threaten more homes, cause more evacuations, and burn more acerage.
In Alaska, the summer sea ice that once protected the coasts has receded, and fall storms now cause more erosion and damage that is severe enough that some communities are already facing relocation.
Scientists studyng climate change confirm that these observations are consistent with Earth’s climactic trends. Long-term, independent records from weather stations, satellites, ocean buoys, tide gauges, and many other data sources all confirm the fact that our nation, like the rest of the world, is warming, precipitation patterns are changing, sea level is rising, and some types of extreme weather events are increasing.
These and other observed climactic changes are having wide-ranging impacts in every region of our country and most sectors of our economy. Some of these changes can be beneficial, such as longer growing seasons in many regions and a longer shipping season on the Great Lakes. But many more have already proven to be detrimental, largely because society and its infrastructure were designed for the climate of the past, not for the rapidly changing climate of the present or the future.
This National Climate Assessment collects, integrates, and assesses observations and research from around the country, helping to show what is actually happening and what it means for peoples’ lives, livelihoods, and future.
This report includes analyses of impacts on seven selected sectors: human health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, and ecosystems and biodiversity. This report additionally focuses on the interactions among several sectors at the national level. It also assesses key impacts on the regions of the U.S.: Northeast, Southeast and Caribbean, Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, Northwest, Alaska, and the Arctic, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands; as well as coastal areas, oceans, and marine resources.
Finally, this report is the first to explicitly assess the current state of adaptation, mitigation, and decision support activities.”