US Report: Climate Change Already Taking Heavy Toll

National Climate Assessment offers bleak overview

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 12, 2013 1:45 PM CST

(Newser) – A federal advisory panel has delivered its assessment on climate change, and it's not pretty. Expect hotter temperatures and more "extreme weather events" across the US in coming decades, says the panel of 240 scientists and other experts, reports the Hill. “These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity,” says the draft report of the National Climate Assessment. (Read it in full here.) Some other highlights:

  • It's a problem now: "Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present," says the report. "Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer."
  • Severe weather: “Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and arctic sea ice are melting."
  • How much hotter? Most of the US will be 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit hotter over the coming decades, says the report. Under current emissions, temperatures could rise a staggering 5 to 10 degrees by 2100.

The report does not make recommendations on how to fix things, notes the LA Times, but environmentalists and their legislative backers hope the forecast will prompt the White House to move. "The findings in the report are a three-alarm fire," says Democratic congressman Henry Waxman. The last assessment came out in 2009, and "evidence for a changing climate has strengthened considerably" since then, say the authors, reports NPR.

In this file photo taken June 9, 2012, smoke billows from the Little Bear fire in southeastern New Mexico.
In this file photo taken June 9, 2012, smoke billows from the Little Bear fire in southeastern New Mexico.   (AP Photo/Roswell Daily Record, Mark Wilson, File)
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