New Report: Global Warming Undeniable, Extreme Weather Getting Worse

This post was coauthored by SACE Policy & Communications Director, Jennifer Rennicks.

The draft of the newest National Climate Assessment (NCA) report was officially made available today, and the findings for this third climate assessment aren’t comforting:

Climate change is already affecting the American people. 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. These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity.

- From the report’s Executive Summary

From the report’s first sentence, the findings are made very clear: Climate change is happening now and it is hurting people.  This is a warning that the scientists and climate action advocates, like SACE, have cautioned about for some time.  In fact, we have an extensive blog archive about the effects that global warming-fueled extreme weather is having on our communities in the Southeast.

Even though we have known about these impacts for some time, this version of the NCA report is particularly significant for a couple reasons:

1) Scientists are more confidently linking the extreme weather we’ve seen in our daily lives to climate change.  Linking specific weather events to climate change has always been approached with caution, but because of the frequency and the trend of weather events we’ve seen in recent years, the link is becoming more and more clearly significant.

2) The report is one more piece of evidence blowing the climate denial argument and culture out of the water.  This report was a joint collaboration of hundreds of industry leaders, scientific institutions, and government agencies.  Even two of environmentalists’ most-disliked corporations fed into the process: Monsanto and Chevron.  If even these titans of industry are helping the nation prepare for climate change, it must be conceded that global warming is in fact of concern to conservatives and liberals, big businesses and eco-types alike.

Behind the Scenes: NCA’s History and Process

The National Climate Assessment (NCA) is conducted under the auspices of the Global Change Research Act of 1990, which requires a report to the President and the Congress that evaluates, integrates and interprets the findings of climate science every four years.  The first two reports were completed in 2000 and 2009. This latest report draws from many researchers in a wide range of scientific fields to yield the best available data on climate change and its effects on humanity.  The team that assembles the report, the NCA and Development Advisory Committee, is made up of representatives from leading scientific universities, influential businesses, and various federal government agencies.  In putting together the current version of the report, they engaged more than 240 authors, representing a wide sampling of the scientific community.

Some important highlights from the report:

  • “Evidence for climate change abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.  This evidence has been compiled by scientists and engineers from around the world, using satellites, weather balloons, thermometers, buoys, and other observing systems. The sum total of this evidence tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming.
  • The United States average temperature has increased 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895, 80% of which has been since 1980.  We can expect an additional 3 – 10 degrees depending on how dramatically we curb our greenhouse gas emissions.
  • “While some changes will bring potential benefits, such as longer growing seasons, many will be disruptive to society because our institutions and infrastructure have been designed for the relatively stable climate of the past, not the changing one of the present and future.”
  • Sea level rise, combined with coastal storms, has increased the risk of erosion, storm-surge damage, and flooding for coastal communities, especially along the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic seaboard, and Alaska. In the Southeast, coastal infrastructure including roads, rail lines, energy infrastructure, and port facilities including naval bases, are at risk from storm surge that is exacerbated by rising sea level.”
  • Climate change will influence human health in many ways; some existing health threats will intensify, and new health threats will emerge. Some of the key drivers of health impacts include: increasingly frequent and intense extreme heat, which causes heat-related illnesses and deaths and over time, worsens drought and wildfire risks, and intensifies air pollution; increasingly frequent extreme precipitation and associated flooding that can lead to injuries and increases in marine and freshwater-borne disease; and rising sea levels that intensify coastal flooding and storm surge.”
  •  The NCA highlights water stress as perhaps the main impact of climate change on the Southeast in years to come: “Decreased water availability, exacerbated by population growth and land-use change, is causing increased competition for water.”  This projection highlights the imperative that our region switch from water-intensive energy production sources, like coal and nuclear, to water-free resources, like wind and solar.

The NCADAC is seeking comments on its draft report.  Please submit comments here by April 12 (requires free account creation).  If you live close enough to one of the public town hall meetings the NCADAC is hosting, please consider attending.  The Southeast’s town hall meeting will take place February 19 in Tampa, Florida.  More information can be found here.

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This reminds me of one of my favourite jokes: “What if it’s all wrong? What if we make a cleaner and healthier world and global warming never existed??”

Comment by kole on January 15, 2013 11:38 am

The War Against Climate Change is A War Against The Poor
by peopleneedpower
The purpose of this article is to explore the powerful forces behind the War On Climate Change. Forces that claim their advocacy of Climate Change is to save the world from the catastrophes the earth would face if the green house gas, CO2 man made emissions are not brought back to a preindustrial level, say to 1885 levels. But as we can see from the graft

of US CO2 emissions vs temperatures, since 1895 CO2 have gone up but temperatures have remained pretty flat. So why all the fear mongering?

Many prior articles on the net have documented the various power mongers in government, academia, Hollywood, the environmental movement, Saudi Arabia and Russia who are the main forces behind the War On Climate Change. Their motives are a mosaic of greed, power and an unfounded belief that humans are destroying the planet and to save the earth we must regress back to a pre industrial more bucolic world like the Garden of Eden maybe. Below are some links to prior articles that expose the forces and people behind the Climate Change Movement.

1. Some are just plain greedy

2. Some seek power

3. Some believe humans are pests who need to be controlled by limiting their population.

4. Some are powerful energy competitors of the U.S. like Russia and Saudi Arabia, who have a vested interest in preventing the U.S. from developing our own vast fossil fuel resources.

The only people benefiting from the climate change movement are the rich and powerful in government, academia and in the Green Energy Industry where billions of tax pay dollars have been wasted on failed businesses. The other people behind the movement are on large part misanthropic zealots who have infiltrated themselves into the IPCC and EPA where their bias views of climate change predominate. The people who suffer the most from this matrix of greed, power and zealots in the Climate Change movement are the poor.

Comment by CJ Orach on January 29, 2013 7:08 pm

Hi CJ. Temperatures have indeed increased along with the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. See NOAA’s recent state of the climate report for more information. All twelve years since 2000 rank among the hottest 14 years on record. The financial motive for climate action is shared broadly throughout society as we all foot the bill for climate catastrophes such as extreme weather and sea level rise. It’s been calculated that for every $1 we spend proactively curbing carbon emissions, we will save $10 down the road in not having to pay for damages, etc. If you were to actually “follow the money,” you would find an ugly picture, paid for by fossil fuel companies. Check out The poor are disproportionally impacted by climate impacts as the option to “pay the way out” is less feasible. Failure to take action on climate change is a moral failure, ignoring the needs of those who are least able to adapt (and often those who pollute the least).

Comment by Chris Carnevale on February 11, 2013 10:30 pm

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