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article imageWhite House report: Climate change is the new reality

By Karen Graham     May 6, 2014 in Environment
The impact of human-induced climate change is now a reality for Americans, and an alarming wake-up call on the need for us to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to the National Climate Assessment, released by the White House on Tuesday.
The Third National Climate Assessment is the result of four years of research by over 240 scientists and other experts. The 800 page report was given final approval this week by a committee that included representatives from two major oil companies, NOAA, NASA, other government departments, and the National Academy of Science.
At a press conference on Tuesday, John P Holdren, the President’s science adviser, said the National Climate Assessment was “the loudest and clearest alarm bell to date” on climate change in the US. John Podesta, a White House counsellor, told reporters the report contained “a huge amount of practical, usable knowledge that state and local decision-makers can take advantage of as they plan on or for the impacts of climate change.”
Exceedingly hot temperatures, wildfires, drought, torrential rains and flooding, changes in the growing seasons and in insect and other pest activities, as well as changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies and asthma is all due to the impact of climate change on our lives. “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the White House report released on Tuesday says.
The report is in clear, concise language, citing oyster growers in Washington state and Vermont maple syrup producers. While moving scenarios directly into American homes, the report shows how recent human-induced climate change events are threatening just about every aspect of our lives. The report talks about coastal planners in Florida, as well as water management in our bone-dry Southwestern states.
We can attest to the changes already taking place. California has now been declared to be 100 percent under drought conditions, according to the National Drought Monitor, The federal government is $400 million under budget to fight the wildfires that have already destroyed thousands of acres this year, and the fire season has just begun. Closer to our homes, our very way of living is being impacted.
Food prices, from fresh vegetables to beef, chicken and pork have been affected by climate change. And the National Climate Assessment points out it is not just us that need to be concerned. Other countries are experiencing the devastating effects of climate change today.
The changes could help fuel wildfires across the Southwest, lead to a lengthened growing season in the Midwest, Glaciers will shrink in Alaska even as drought leads to “increased competition for scarce water resources for people and ecosystems,” the report warns. In one scenario, very much like Hurricane Sandy, torrential rains hit an American city like New York City, flooding tunnels, washing out rail lines and overwhelming drainage systems so quickly that streets become rivers of rushing water.
The federal government has been busy behind the scenes, working to get people more informed about the crisis. In February of this year, the US Department of Agriculture introduced something called "climate hubs," a system of communication between farmers and universities, industry groups and government agencies in order to prepare them for climate change induced conditions like droughts or flooding. In 2012 alone, climate and weather disasters cost the US more than $100 billion.
The White House plans to use the report to bolster Obama’s Climate Action Plan, laid out last year, which calls for new regulations to curb polluters, and establish a one billion dollar “climate resiliency fund” to finance preparations for the effects of continued climate change. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, one of a number of Republicans opposed to President Obama's plan says, “Instead of making the environment drastically better, the President’s strategy will make the climate for unemployed Americans even worse."
Gabe Wisniewski, Greenpeace USA's climate and energy campaign director, has this to say about the report: “While President Obama has taken some important steps to address climate change at home, his administration is undermining that progress by ignoring the huge amounts of carbon pollution that would accompany the fossil fuel industry’s plan to export coal, liquefied natural gas and oil abroad. Climate change is a global crisis which will only be made worse by extracting and exporting fossil fuels, whether it’s fracked gas from Appalachia, coal strip-mined from Montana, or oil drilled from the Arctic."
The bottom line for all of America is that this report is probably our final wake-up call. It is time to look past the naysayers, and instead take the this as an opportunity to start some corrective action.
More about Climate change, Catastrophe, Reality, national climate assessment report, humaninduced
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