The National Climate Assessment summarizes the effects of global warming and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. A team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.
Climate change news
The continuing debate on whether human activity is driving climate change just received a shot of new data with the release of the National Climate Assessment report. The report, which focused on climate change in the U.S., concluded that human-driven climate change is having a dramatic effect both ecologically and financially on the United States.
In an interview for DemocracyNow.org, “White House Report Says Climate Change Having Immediate U.S. Impact, with Worse to Come,” President Obama’s science advisor, Dr. John Holdren, explained the report’s findings.
According to Holdren, “The contents confirm that climate change is not a distant threat. It is affecting the American people already.”
Holdren cited evidence of global warming in the longer summers that are hotter, and more severe storms and rains, as factors that are escalating seasonal allergies in humans and changing the life cycles of insects, putting crops at risk.
The report warned that unless steps are taken to reduce greenhouse emissions, U.S. temperatures will increase up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. Scientists have already measured the effects of climate change in the rising sea levels, increase in droughts and fires in the Southwest and West U.S., as well as intense rainfall leading to flooding in other parts of the country.
As for the question of human-driven activity and its influence on climate change, the report stated that human influence has “roughly doubled the probability of extreme heat events.”
Consequences of global warming
Weather extremes that are brought on by global warming can have a devastating effect on crop production. In February 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued technical bulletin 1935, “Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation,” which explored the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and rising temperatures on agricultural activity.
“Equally important to consider are indirect effects of climate change. Included in this mix are effects of changing air temperature and precipitation on non-crop species found in agroecosystems, such as insects, weeds, pathogens and invasive species. As is the case with direct effects, these indirect (biotic or biological) effects of climate change can have considerable influence on the vitality of U.S. agriculture,” the report stated.
According to the bulletin, livestock production systems are also vulnerable to climate change because temperature extremes can lead to reduced productivity and even death.
Global temperature rise and water quality
The National Climate Assessment also addressed the effects of climate change on the nation’s water supply. Noting that groundwater supplies in some regions are already stressed by increased demand, the report predicted future water shortages and a decrease in water quality.
The report explained that increases in precipitation in the Midwest and Northeast will be matched by an increase in the length of dry spells, especially the southern and northwestern portions of the contiguous United States.
These and other report highlights are available at the NCA2014.gov website. The 12 report findings included: extreme weather, future climate, human health, oceans, agriculture, indigenous peoples, ecosystems, water supply, widespread impacts, changing climate and infrastructure.
White House response
In a May 6, 2014, article for CNN.com, “Climate change is here, action needed now, says new White House report,” Kevin Liptak, Jethro Mullen and Tom Cohen described President Obama’s reaction to the NCA report.
According to Liptak, et. al., “John Podesta, a Democratic operative who now counsels the President, told reporters that Obama will kick off a broad campaign this week to publicize the report, while Cabinet members and other administration officials would be ‘fanning out’ across the country to spread the word about how climate change impacts specific regions.”
Despite stiff opposition from Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, it appears that the President may be able to create effective legislation to further a responsible policy toward climate change.
The NCA report will be a valuable tool in the movement to increase public awareness and support for a government policy to reduce CO2 emissions.
Do you think that climate change is driven by human actions? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.