Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Major New U.S. Report Assesses Climate Change, Future Impacts

June 17 Update: News conference video is available here (Lubchenco's comments come near the end, after 54:30):

11 pm Update:
At a news conference this afternoon presenting the results of the report, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco called it a "game-changer":
The findings are a game-changer. Much of the foot-dragging in addressing climate change is a reflection of the perception that climate change is way down the road . . . This report demonstrates, provides the concrete scientific information that says unequivocally that climate change is happening now, and it's happening in our own back yards and it affects the kinds of things that people care about.

Original post:
The U.S. Government's Global Change Research Program, a joint activity of 13 departments and agencies, this afternoon released a report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. The report "summarizes the science of climate change and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future." It is the "first report in almost a decade to provide an extensive evaluation of climate change impacts on the United States at the regional level." The 189-page report is available online to download in full or in part, and is also being published by Cambridge University Press.

The report's key findings:
  1. Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.
  2. Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow.
  3. Widespread climate-related impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase.
  4. Climate change will stress water resources.
  5. Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged.
  6. Coastal areas are at increasing risk from sea-level rise and storm surge.
  7. Threats to human health will increase.
  8. Climate change will interact with many social and environmental stresses.
  9. Thresholds will be crossed, leading to large changes in climate and ecosystems.
  10. Future climate change and its impacts depend on choices made today.
Image (click to enlarge): Atmospheric CO2 content and global average temperatures since 1880 from U.S. Global Change Research Program

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