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The Edge of Climate Change

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Climate Change Affecting Every Region of US

May 6th 2014

Staten Island community

A new White House report released Tuesday concludes that human-generated climate change is having dramatic effects on every part of the nation.

The 841-page National Climate Assessment, which the administration touted as the most comprehensive look yet at global warming in the U.S., concludes that climate change is raising temperatures, making water more scarce and wildfires more common.

It said climate change has “moved firmly into the present” for the U.S., underscoring the need for urgent action to combat threats. “Americans are noticing changes all around them,” the report states. “Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer.”

The report adds that coastal residents are seeing “more dramatic” changes with the increase of flooding. “Observations unequivocally show that climate is changing and that the warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human-induced emissions of heat trapping gases,” the report states.

Obama’s science adviser John Holdren called the report the “loudest and clearest alarm bell to date” on climate change impacts on a call with reporters Tuesday. The administration enlisted over 300 experts and 13 federal science agencies along with a 60-member committee to produce the report.

To gather the data, researchers utilized satellites, weather gallons, thermometers, buoys, and other observing systems, in order to make sure every member of the U.S. public could find information that applies to their region, the administration said.

President Obama, who has made combatting climate change a central part of his second term, plans extensive outreach on Tuesday to spread the findings of the report. Obama plans to conduct one-on-one interviews with national and local TV meteorologists Tuesday, in what some have called a new strategy for the administration to communicate his climate agenda.

Obama's administration is pursuing new rules on carbon-emitting coal-powered plants as part of an effort to tackle climate change. The administration also recently punted a decision on building the Keystone XL pipeline, which environmental groups argue would significantly add to climate change.

Skeptics called the report another “scare tactic” by the administration. Many contend there is far from a consensus among U.S. scientists that the globe is in fact warming, arguing that the temperature changes have continually occurred throughout the last century.

“Facing a recovering, yet fragile, economy, with families across the country struggling to make ends meet, it is concerning that the Obama Administration is busy promoting its politically driven climate change agenda, instead of addressing the real issues plaguing our nation,” said Laura Sheehan, of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

Critics of the Obama’s climate agenda argue that, rather than pressing action on cutting emissions overseas, the administration should visit U.S. communities being impacted by the “costly regulations” on power plants it is working to finalize.

The highly publicized report comes on the heels of the United Nations global climate change report, which offered similar conclusions for the planet. Green groups rallied called it another wake up call that the U.S. shouldn’t sleep through.

“The National Climate Assessment paints a bleak picture, but it is a picture we have seen clearly for many years, and we have to act on it now,” said Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen. Sierra Club Director Michael Brune added that impacts on health, communities and the U.S. economy will “skyrocket” if the country fails to act.

The new report includes research and evidence from 13 federal agencies. It found the average temperature in the U.S. has increased by 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit, coming in at 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895. A majority of that increase took place since 1970, the report states. And the most recent decade was the nation’s hottest on record, with 2012 being the hottest year on record in the U.S.

The change in climate in the last 50 years, the report concludes, is a result of human activities, mainly from the burning of fossil-fuel energy sources. The report breaks the U.S. into seven regions, detailing specific climate changes in each.

It said climate change is leading to drought in the Southwest, greater heat waves and precipitation in the Northeast, and lower crop yields as a result of rising carbon dioxide in the Midwest.

John Melillo, a marine biologist who sits on the White House climate assessment committee, cited the rise of sea levels in the top three “most concerning” findings from the report. Global sea levels have risen roughly 8 inches since 1880 and are expected to rise an additional 1-4 feet by 2100, according to the report.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) railed against the administration’s new report and the timing of its release, which he said was “conveniently” released the week the Senate will debate the approval of the Keystone pipeline.

“Now that another climate change billionaire, Tom Steyer, has entered the scene and put at least $100 million on the campaign table, the President and my colleagues are jumping at opportunities to side line critical domestic energy opportunities for the United States and instead discuss global warming alarmism. Fear tactics and money are powerful tools in politics,” Inhofe said in a statement on Tuesday.

Laura Barron-Lopez writes for The Hill, from where this article is adapted.


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