The White House released a major scientific report today that should finally end any last lingering doubt about the extent of global warming.
Release of the report, a decade in the making, had been slowed by years of foot-dragging by the Bush administration.
Its message? Global warming is manmade. It’s irrefutable. And it’s occurring a lot faster than we thought, not only in remote polar regions, but throughout the fifty states.
Compiling years of peer-reviewed research from multiple national and international agencies, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the report is the most comprehensive assessment of the impacts of global warming in the United States to date. It offers concrete and unequivocal evidence that global warming is happening in our own backyards, already affecting the things we care about. It should be required reading for all Americans.
The report, a joint effort of 13 federal agencies as part of the United States Global Change Research Program, makes clear that global warming is not an opinion to be debated, but rather scientific fact to be addressed.
It looks at rising temperatures, heavy downpours, carbon emissions, and rising sea levels and how each will play out in the nation’s geographic regions. It also examines how climate change will affect every aspect of society, from energy production, to transportation, to agriculture. And the news isn’t good.
From major loss of coastal land in Florida, to the decline and possible disappearance of iconic species like California’s Joshua trees and the Pacific Northwest’s salmon, it lays out a bleak future, not only for the nation’s wildlands and wildlife, but for humans as well.
Yet, oddly, once you make it past the dismal statistics about rising temperatures, extreme weather, disappearing shorelines, and the world’s species and ecosystems being turned on their heads, the report offers hope for the future.
The message is that the end of this story will be ours to write. The report’s predictions depend on the decisions we make today.
Report projections show that global average temperatures could continue to increase another 2 to 11.5 degrees F this century (they have already increased 1.5 degrees F since 1900). However, it says that if we decrease emissions right away we can avoid the worst effects and put ourselves on the lower end of the impact spectrum.
Projections show more rapid changes if emissions are not curtailed.
The worst effects of climate change can be avoided through less carbon dioxide emissions, better fuel efficiency, development of energy that doesn’t release Co2, and helping human and natural communities adapt to the effects of global warming that we can’t avoid.
The science is clear and conclusive. We need to decide today if we’re going to condemn our children to an extremely challenging future, or take the opportunity to quickly address climate change now.
We can do the latter by passing climate and energy legislation that awaits a vote in the House of Representatives, possibly as early as next week.
This legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, would address global warming by finally requiring polluters to pay for the gases they put into the atmosphere. But more than that, it would finally help create green jobs and a clean energy industry in the United States, avoiding the billions of dollars that failure to act will cost our world economy and state economies.
The Wilderness Society has been a strong advocate for this bill, which also includes dedicated funding for safeguarding natural resources and helping them adapt to a changing climate. This part is critical because restoring our economic health depends on the ability of our natural systems to fight global warming and better withstand the effects they are already feeling.
Take action for our planet! Urge your Congressperson to support the American Clean Energy and Security Act today.