Source : GinaMarie Cheeseman / Care2
The Obama administration released a report today by the U.S. Global Change Research Program about the impacts of climate change in the U.S. Every four years federal law requires comprehensive reports on the impacts of climate change. The Bush administration was sued by the Center for Biological Diversity in order to force the release of an early draft of the report. A report had not been written since 2000.
The report states that reducing carbon emissions “would lessen warming over this century and beyond.” Particularly, “sizable early cuts in emissions would significantly reduce the pace and the overall amount of climate change.” However, earlier emissions reductions “would have a greater effect in reducing climate change than comparable reductions made later.” Reducing emissions of “shorter-lived heat-trapping gases would began to reduce warming within weeks to decades.” Methane is cited as an example.
There are two ways to deal with climate change: mitigation and adaptation. The report cites several examples of mitigation: energy efficiency, energy sources that either do not produce carbon or produce less of it, and capture and storage of carbon from fossil fuels.”
Some impacts of climate change will continue despite reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, so adaptation is also needed. Among the examples of adaptation the report cites are growing crops better suited to either a dry or wet climate, and businesses relocating from coastal areas vulnerable to sea-level rise and hurricanes.
The ten key findings of the report are:
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. Risks 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.
The report listed the following recommendations for dealing with climate change:
Expand our understanding of climate change impacts
Refine ability to project climate change, including extreme events, at local scales
Expand capacity to provide decision makers and the public with relevant information on climate change and its impacts
Improve understanding of thresholds likely to lead to abrupt changes in climate or ecosystems
Improve understanding of the most effective ways to reduce the rate and magnitude of climate change, as well as unintended consequences of such activities
Enhance understanding of how society can adapt to climate change
A call to action
This report provides the concrete scientific information that says unequivocally that climate change is happening now and it's happening in our own backyards and it affects the kind of things people care about," said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We need to act sooner rather than later.”
"This is the clearest of wake up calls — climate change is here and the time for action is now," said World Wildlife Fund President Carter Roberts