Obama administration releases national climate report

Guest Blog | June 16, 2009 | Climate Change

It is widely recognized that human activity is causing dramatic changes to our climate, and today the Obama Administration released a new comprehensive assessment of our nation’s vulnerability to climate change.


Experts from more than a dozen government agencies and researchers from several major universities and research institutes contributed to the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s report: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.  In 2007, the Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that human activity is having a profound effect on the global climate system.   Today’s report concludes that “climate change is already having visible impacts in the United States, and the choices we make now will determine the severity of its impacts in the future.”

According to John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy:

“This new report integrates the most up-to-date scientific findings into a comprehensive picture of the ongoing as well as expected future impacts of heat-trapping pollution on the climate experienced by Americans, region by region and sector by sector.”

So what exactly does it tell us?  Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States reports ten key findings, along with a description of challenges for the Southeast.  Those include:

image0021* Projected increases in air and water temperatures will cause heat-related stresses for people, plants, and animals.

* Decreased water availability is very likely to affect the region’s economy as well as its natural systems.

* Sea-level rise and the likely increase in hurricane intensity and associated storm surge will be among the most serious
consequences of climate change.

* Ecological thresholds are likely to be crossed throughout the region, causing major disruptions to ecosystems and to the benefits they provide to people.

* Quality of life will be affected by increasing heat stress, water scarcity, severe weather events, and reduced availability of
insurance for at-risk properties.

The sooner we take action, the less severe many of these changes could be.  Although the report doesn’t evaluate specific solutions, it makes clear that “choices made about emissions in the next few decades will have far-reaching consequences for climate change impacts.  Over the long term, lower emissions will lessen both the magnitude of climate change impacts and the rate at which they appear.”

This report clearly points to a window of opportunity to prevent the economic, social and environmental consequences that will we face if we do nothing.  Here are a few opportunities to take action:

Tell Congress to seize this historic opportunity to pass legislation to pass a strong plan to unleash clean energy development and put a legal limit on America’s global warming pollution.

Support the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Endangerment Finding” on global warming pollution.

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