A new scientific report was released for public comment Friday and the findings are scary. The Climate Assessment Report issued by the 60-person "National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee" or NCADAC concludes that unless something is done now, climate change will raise the earth’s temperatures 10 degrees.
The annual report was issued by the Climate Advisory Committee of the U.S. Global Change Research Program established by Congress at the request of President George H.W. Bush (a traditional Republican) to provide a scientific basis on which the federal government could make policy decisions. Science mattered back in those days.
The Report found that “unambiguous evidence” abounds from the “top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans” that earth is warming, and that climate change over the past 50 years is driven primarily by human activity, especially from burning fossil fuels.
“Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and arctic sea ice are melting,” the draft report states. “These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity.”
“U.S. average temperature has increased by about 1.5°F since 1895; but more than 80% of this increase has occurred since 1980,” the report found. The most recent decade was the nation’s hottest and 2012 was the warmest year ever. Though most regions of the U.S. are experiencing warming, the changes in temperature are not uniform rising more quickly at high higher latitudes.
“U.S. temperatures will continue to rise, with the next few decades projected to see another 2°F to 4°F of warming in most areas. The amount of warming by the end of the century is projected to correspond closely to the cumulative global emissions of greenhouse gases up to that time: roughly 3°F to 5°F under a lower emissions scenario involving substantial reductions in emissions after 2050, and 5°F to 10°F for a higher emissions scenario assuming continued increases in emissions,” the report stated.
The path we are on would indicate the higher emissions scenario.
And looking to the future, the report concluded that these climatic changes have affected and will continue to affect human health, water supply, agriculture, transportation, energy, and many other aspects of society. In other words, there are consequences.
The report pointed out that certain groups of people are more vulnerable to the range of climate change-related health impacts, including the elderly, children, the poor, and the sick. Others are vulnerable because of where they live, including those in floodplains, coastal zones, and some urban areas.
Human modifications of ecosystems often increase our vulnerability to damage from extreme weather events by reducing nature’s capacity to modulate the impacts of such events. Salt marshes, reefs, mangrove forests, and barrier islands defend coastal ecosystems and infrastructure against storm surges. The destruction of these by man from coastal development increases the risk of catastrophic damage during or after extreme weather events.
Floodplain wetlands absorb floodwaters and reduce the effects of high flows on river-margin lands—but we are destroying them at alarming rates. Extreme weather events that produce sudden increases in water flow that carry debris and pollutants which decrease the natural capacity of ecosystems to process pollution making our air and water more unsafe and unhealthy.
This can not be stopped but it can be slowed. However, that takes action now. The sad part is there is very little will to do anything but bury our heads in the ever dirtier sand.
The head of the House Science Committee, Lamar Smith (R-TX) believes climate change is due to sun spots not man, and man should not do anything differently. He will hold a “hearing” on the matter this year. Expect it to be like the hearing another House committee held last year on women’s reproductive health which no women were called to testify.
So another report and more inaction as the world burns.
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