Wednesday, January 16, 2013

More Evidence for Anthropogenic Climate Change from the 2013 US National Climate Assessment Draft Report

A draft report released on January 11 suggests that the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is stronger than ever. The 1,146 page draft was prepared by a US federal committee.  It offers a comprehensive analysis of the latest and best peer-reviewed science on global warming. The National Climate Assessment report reiterates the widely understood fact that climate change will have a wide range of impacts ranging from agriculture to water. The report further indicates that the US requires better national plans for adaptation to a changing climate.

The Global Change 2013 report was prepared by a Federal Advisory Committee know as the "National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee" or NCADAC. The report is mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990, which requires that a national climate assessment be conducted every four years and the results be issued to the President and Congress. As a consequence of the 1990 legislation the US Global Change Research Program was formed. This is an inter-governmental body involving 13 federal agencies and departments.

In 2000 when the first report was published it was attacked by conservatives and the Bush administration suppressed its findings.

"Climate change presents a major challenge for society," the committee's leadership said in a letter addressed to the American people. "This report and the sustained assessment process that is being developed represent steps forward in advancing our understanding of that challenge and its far-reaching implications for our nation and the world."

The 2013 NCADAC report, which engaged more than 240 authors, indicated that one of the salient reasons given for the rapidly changing climate is the copious burning of fossil fuels. Following two consecutive years of extreme weather, the report makes a stronger connection between increased incidence of extreme weather and anthropogenic climate change.

In an emailed statement, Gene Karpinski, the president of the League of Conservation Voters, said the report confirms what many Americans already know. "Hurricane Sandy and the historic droughts, floods and heat waves happening across the country aren't a fluke, but the result of a climate warming much faster than previously thought," he said. "If we put off action on climate change, the costs of addressing its impacts will only rise and this extreme weather will be just the beginning. This report should serve as a wake-up call that it's time to act."

The committee's letter also said, "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. Rain comes in heavier downpours, though in many regions there are longer dry spells in between." The letter references dramatic flooding, drier weather, wildfires and receding sea ice. The report also states that sea levels are expected to "rise by another 1 to 4 feet in this century". 

"These and other observed climatic changes are having wide-ranging impacts in every region of our country and most sectors of our economy," the committee letter concluded.

"This draft report sends a warning to all of us," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat and chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, in an emailed statement. "We must act in a comprehensive fashion to reduce carbon pollution or expose our people and communities to continuing devastation from extreme weather events and their aftermath."

The report clearly indicates that the Obama administration's efforts to reduce emissions are “not close to sufficient” to prevent the most severe consequences of climate change.

The report states that not only is the US getting hotter (projected to be as much as 11 degrees), the climate is changing, it goes on to say that these changes are attributable to human activities. The report provides elaborate explanations on mitigation and adaptation, as well as how to improve scientific understanding and concludes that Americans must face the necessity of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the report also concludes that this effort "paves the way for economic opportunities".

To download the full report click here.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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