According to a report released by the National Climate Assessment on Friday, the steps taken by President Obama so far to reduce emissions are “not close to sufficient” to prevent the most severe consequences of climate change.
The 1,000-page study, the work of more than 300 government scientists and experts, provides “the fullest picture to date of the real-time effects of climate change on U.S. life, and the most likely consequences for the future,” The Guardian reports. It forcibly confirms what researchers have been saying for decades—that the burning of fossil fuels by humans is the cause of warming and its associated 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 White House was discouragingly cautious about the document. In a blog post, Obama administration officials said: “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.”
The report made clear that no place in the U.S. had or would go untouched by climate change. 2012 was the hottest year on record—a full one degree warmer than the last such record, “an off-the-charts increase,” The Guardian reported.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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.
thedianna (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Children seek relief from the heat on an August day.