The end is not near, it’s here. The U.S. Global Change Research Program released a report that analyzes the present impacts of climate change across the United States. It examines regional and sectoral data, as well as the implications for infrastructure, agriculture, human health, and access to water.
Here are the highlights:
1. On the coasts, sea level rise is already contributing to increased flooding during high tides and storms, the report notes. And in the West, conditions are getting hotter and drier, and the snowpack is melting earlier in the year, extending wildfire season.
2. Average U.S. temperatures have increased 1.3 degrees to 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on the part of the country) since people began keeping records in 1895, and much of that warming has come in recent decades.
3. The length of time between the last spring frost and the first fall frost also has increased across the U.S. The average time between frosts in the Southwest increased by 19 days in the years 1991 to 2012, compared with the average from 1901 to 1960.
4. The number of days where temperatures top 100 degrees is predicted to increase in the future. Extreme heat can cause more heart, lung and kidney problems, especially among the poor, sick and elderly.
5. They have linked to climate change to an increase in major precipitation events. In the Northeast, for example, there has been a 71 percent increase in storms that would classify as “very heavy” -– in the top 1 percent — from 1958 to 2012.
All in all, it is becoming more and more clear that this is not a problem for our children, or our children’s children. Reports like these make policymakers and consumers more conscious of the current situation, and more informed when it comes to making decisions about our consumption going forward. Infrastructure will need to be rebuilt for the future, instead of the current infrastructure that was modern 50 years ago. People may finally be waking up to the reality of the situation, and action can finally be taken before we pass the point of no return.
Do you think that we will be able to change course before it is too late? Leave a comment below!
U.S. Global Research Program: http://www.globalchange.gov/