Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Climate change: A clear and present danger

The US government has released its National Climate Assessment, confirming that climate change is a clear and present danger to the United States:

Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present. Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience. So, too, are coastal planners in Florida, water managers in the arid Southwest, city dwellers from Phoenix to New York, and Native Peoples on tribal lands from Louisiana to Alaska. This National Climate Assessment concludes that the evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen and that impacts are increasing across the country.


Scientists who study climate change confirm that these observations are consistent with significant changes in Earth’s climatic trends. Long-term, independent records from weather stations, satellites, ocean buoys, tide gauges, and many other data sources all confirm that our nation, like the rest of the world, is warming. Precipitation patterns are changing, sea level is rising, the oceans are becoming more acidic, and the frequency and intensity of some extreme weather events are increasing. Many lines of independent evidence demonstrate that the rapid warming of the past half-century is due primarily to human activities.

The observed warming and other climatic changes are triggering wide-ranging impacts in every region of our country and throughout our economy.

Among those impacts: extreme weather, wildfires, more deaths in heatwaves, the spread of tropical diseases, and threats to water supply and water quality with flow-on impacts on agriculture. If this was being caused by foreign people living in poor countries, the US would spare no expense to prevent it (and to capture and torture the perpetrators, or murder them with drone strikes and death squads). Instead, because its a bunch of US billionaires who have bought one of the two parties in America's broken "democracy", it sits on its hands. But ultimately, climate change represents a bigger challenge to the US than the "war on terror": it will kill far more people and cause far greater devastation than terrorists ever will. And they need to respond accordingly.