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Goldenberg reports: "Future generations of Americans can expect to spend 25 days a year sweltering in temperatures above 100F (38C), with climate change on course to turn the country into a hotter, drier, and more disaster-prone place."

A report says steps taken by Obama to reduce emissions are 'not close to sufficient' to prevent the most severe consequences of climate change. (photo: Saul Loeb/AFP)
A report says steps taken by Obama to reduce emissions are 'not close to sufficient' to prevent the most severe consequences of climate change. (photo: Saul Loeb/AFP)


A Hotter, Drier, and More Disaster Prone America

By Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian UK

14 January 13

 

Draft report from NCA makes clear link between climate change and extreme weather as groups urge Obama to take action.

uture generations of Americans can expect to spend 25 days a year sweltering in temperatures above 100F (38C), with climate change on course to turn the country into a hotter, drier, and more disaster-prone place.

The National Climate Assessment, released in draft form on Friday , provided the fullest picture to date of the real-time effects of climate change on US life, and the most likely consequences for the future.

The 1,000-page report, the work of the more than 300 government scientists and outside experts, was unequivocal on the human causes of climate change, and on the links between climate change and extreme weather.

"Climate change is already affecting the American people," the draft report said. "Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense including heat waves, heavy downpours and in some regions floods and drought. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and Arctic sea ice are melting."

The report, which is not due for adoption until 2014, was produced to guide federal, state and city governments in America in making long-term plans.

By the end of the 21st century, climate change is expected to result in increased risk of asthma and other public health emergencies, widespread power blackouts, and mass transit shutdowns, and possibly shortages of food.

"Proactively preparing for climate change can reduce impacts, while also facilitating a more rapid and efficient response to changes as they happen," said Katharine Jacobs, the director of the National Climate Assessment.

The report will be open for public comment on Monday.

Environmental groups said they hoped the report would provide Barack Obama with the scientific evidence to push for measures that would slow or halt the rate of climate change - sparing the country some of the worst effects.

The report states clearly that the steps taken by Obama so far to reduce emissions are "not close to sufficient" to prevent the most severe consequences of climate change.

"As climate change and its impacts are becoming more prevalent, Americans face choices," the report said. "Beyond the next few decades, the amount of climate change will still largely be determined by the choices society makes about emissions. Lower emissions mean less future warming and less severe impacts. Higher emissions would mean more warming and more severe impacts."

As the report made clear: no place in America had gone untouched by climate change. Nowhere would be entirely immune from the effects of future climate change.

Some of those changes are already evident: 2012 was by far the hottest year on record, fully a degree hotter than the last such record - an off-the-charts rate of increase.

Those high temperatures were on course to continue for the rest of the century, the draft report said. It noted that average US temperatures had increased by about 1.5F since 1895, with more than 80% of this increase since 1980.

The rise will be even steeper in future, with the next few decades projected for temperatures 2 to 4 degrees warmer in most areas. By 2100, if climate change continues on its present course, the country can expect to see 25 days a year with temperatures above 100F.

Night-time temperatures will also stay high, providing little respite from the heat.

Certain regions are projected to heat up even sooner. West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware can expect a doubling of days hotter than 95 degrees by the 2050s. In Texas and Oklahoma, the draft report doubled the probability of extreme heat events.

Those extreme temperatures would also exact a toll on public health, with worsening air pollution, and on infrastructure increasing the load for ageing power plants.

But nowhere will see changes as extreme as Alaska, the report said.

"The most dramatic evidence is in Alaska, where average temperatures have increased more than twice as fast as the rest of the country," the draft report said. "Of all the climate-related changes in the US, the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice cover in the last decade may be the most striking of all."

Other regions will face different extreme weather scenarios. The north-east, in particular, is at risk of coastal flooding because of sea-level rise and storm surges, as well as river flooding, because of an increase in heavy downpours.

"The north-east has experienced a greater increase in extreme precipitation over the past few decades than any other region in the US," the report said. Between 1958 and 2010, the north-east saw a 74% increase in heavy downpours.

The midwest was projected to enjoy a longer growing season - but also an increased risk of extreme events like last year's drought. By mid-century, the combination of temperature increases and heavy rainfall or drought were expected to pull down yields of major US food crops, the report warned, threatening both American and global food security.

The report is the most ambitious scientific exercise ever undertaken to catalogue the real-time effects of climate change, and predict possible outcomes in the future.

It involved more than 300 government scientists and outside experts, compared to around 30 during the last such effort when George W Bush was president. Its findings were also much broader in scope, Jacobs said.

There were still unknowns though, the report conceded, especially about how the loss of sea ice in Greenland and Antarctica will affect future sea-level rise.

Campaign groups said they hoped the report would spur Obama to act on climate change in his second term. "The draft assessment offers a perfect opportunity for President Obama at the outset of his second term," said Lou Leonard, director of the climate change programme for the World Wildlife Fund. "When a similar report was released in 2009, the Administration largely swept it under the rug. This time, the President should use it to kick-start a national conversation on climate change. "

However, the White House was exceedingly cautious on the draft release, noting in a blogpost: "The draft NCA is a scientific document-not a policy document-and does not make recommendations regarding actions that might be taken in response to climate change."


 

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+23 # Billy Bob 2013-01-14 08:25
In order to take this seriously, this entire discussion must be framed in a way that makes it not about "climate change", but about the "COMING AMERICAN FOOD SHORTAGE".

If that point is driven home constantly by the left, people will take heed. Not otherwise.

Maybe we can re-use the "cliff" imagery and discuss the "LOOMING FOOD SUPPLY CLIFF".
 
 
+17 # Charles3000 2013-01-14 09:34
It is very definitely not just an American problem; it is a world problem. The changes that have occurred and will occur are planet wide and not confined to Continental USA.
 
 
+17 # Billy Bob 2013-01-14 11:32
True. But, we need to get inside the minds of the fundamentally selfish American mindset that doesn't care about the rest of the world. People have been starving to death in the 3rd world at an ever increasing rate for decades. Has anything been done? When Americans feel a bit worried about their own refrigerators action will be taken.

Additionally, there's very little we can do about the whole world if we can't even lead by example in our own country first.
 
 
+16 # Vardoz 2013-01-14 09:27
The fate of every living thing on our planet is at the mercy of reckless suicidal polluters who can't see past their own bank account. They will not change direction because they don't care. Their sociopathic menatity, if not stopped will destroy our life support system, our Earth! This is a a crime against humanity and all life on Earth. Many civilizations have come and gone and we are next along with so many other amazing creatures that share our planet with us. Polluters are clearly too stupid to make the necessary changes - they don't are about anything and ae moving a head as information piles up that we are on a catastrophic course.
 
 
+10 # Billy Bob 2013-01-14 11:37
What you're arguing for is more government regulation at a time when most politicians are arguing for the exact opposite. You're absolutely right, but we need to change the debate and force their hands.

Also, these companies are in the business of polluting. That's exactly where their profit is. This is going to take brute force. It won't happen voluntarily. Think about the battle that was fought against the tobacco industry from the '60s through the '90s. Remember how nasty it got? Remember how nasty they got?

Now, multiply it by about 20 times. This is a war of attrition. It's our children's lives vs. the profits of the most powerful and ruthless billionaires the world has ever known.
 
 
+7 # ER444 2013-01-14 12:06
"They will not change direction because they don't care." They don't need to care. They will be dead. This is the most naked selfishness that there is. People that really care what will happen to their children and their grandchildren long after they are dead need to get really loud now and force Obama and co. to get a conscience.
 
 
+4 # JetpackAngel 2013-01-14 13:43
This was in my News of the Weird this morning:

* The issues director of the fundamentalist American Family Association told his radio audience in November that God's feelings will be hurt if America stops using fossil fuels for energy. "God has buried those treasures there because he loves to see us find them," said Bryan Fischer, who described Americans' campaigns against fossil fuels as similar to the time when Fischer, at age six, told a birthday-presen t donor that he didn't like his gift. "And it just crushed that person." [AFA "Focal Point," 11-29-2012, via Raw
Story.com]
 
 
+3 # mainescorpio 2013-01-14 13:55
I'm afraid it's too late to reverse the trend of increased temperatures. We are all too dependent on fossil fuels.

We need Hollywood to come up with block busting films about global warming to shake us out of our lethargy.
 
 
0 # Billy Bob 2013-01-14 19:12
Then what? It's only too late when we give up. It will get worse and worse. Eventually, it will be so bad people will act. It will be too late to prevent horrible things from happening, but we will act anyway.
 
 
+4 # Helen 2013-01-14 16:41
I don't see how our elected leaders can ignore this report, the work of the more than 300 government scientists and outside experts, a report that is "unequivocal on the human causes of climate change, and on the links between climate change and extreme weather". We are already on the climate cliff. A tax on carbon would break the momentum of increasing emissions, further spur the development of alternative technologies, and create jobs in the solar and wind energy sectors.

Haven't our politicians already given far too much to the fossil fuel barons? Let's begin by taxing carbon now. There's a petition calling for this at signon.org/sign /tax-carbon-now
 
 
-13 # Depressionborn 2013-01-14 17:35
Quoting Helen:
I don't see how our elected leaders can ignore this report, the work of the more than 300 government scientists and outside experts, a report that is "unequivocal on the human causes of climate change, and on the links between climate change and extreme weather". We are already on the climate cliff. A tax on carbon would break the momentum of increasing emissions, further spur the development of alternative technologies, and create jobs in the solar and wind energy sectors.

Haven't our politicians already given far too much to the fossil fuel barons? Let's begin by taxing carbon now. There's a petition calling for this at signon.org/sign/tax-carbon-now


sorry Helen:
The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.

The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.

This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.
 
 
+3 # ER444 2013-01-15 00:39
Where are you getting your figures and why do you know more than a panel of 300 scientists dedicated to studying this topic? I think someone is feeding you the same crap that Fox News is peddling.
 
 
+2 # adolbe 2013-01-14 21:07
I do not mean to trifle with this serious issue, but winter sports worldwide is going by the wayside. Undependable weather in Europe and USA and even Canada. Someone is taking a big hit financially
 

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