Monday Quote: #NationalClimateAssessment

The Rim Fire burned ~250,000 acres (1,000 km2) of forest near Yosemite National Park in 2013. U.S. Forest Service photo.

The US Global Change Research Program released their third National Climate Assessment last week, nine years after the previous report (2009). Of course, the report was released on a holiday Friday, when most people were engaged with Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales rather than the news cycle.

However, scientists on Twitter and all the major news outlets made sure the word got out about the report, with different researchers highlighting the report’s conclusions for each of their research specialties.

Note that this is a highly-respected report. As it says on the Global Change Research Program’s homepage, “A team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.” You can’t get much more rigorous than that.

Today’s quote is from the report itself.

“This National Climate Assessment concludes that the evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen and that impacts are increasing across the country.

Americans are noticing changes all around them. 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. Rain comes in heavier downpours. People are seeing changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies, the plant varieties that thrive in their gardens, and the kinds of birds they see in any particular month in their neighborhoods.

Other changes are even more dramatic. Residents of some coastal cities see their streets flood more regularly during storms and high tides. Inland cities near large rivers also experience more flooding, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. Insurance rates are rising in some vulnerable locations, and insurance is no longer available in others. Hotter and drier weather and earlier snow melt mean that wildfires in the West start earlier in the spring, last later into the fall, and burn more acreage. In Arctic Alaska, the summer sea ice that once protected the coasts has receded, and autumn storms now cause more erosion, threatening many communities with relocation.”

There is no debate that climate change is happening now. That we are seeing its impacts all over the country, and around the globe. As the special IPCC report released in October stated, we have only 12 years to put measures in place to limit greenhouse gas emissions and prevent even more serious climate changes.

For more details, explore the “Climate Trends” section of the online report, which has a ton of excellent graphics, references, and plain language summaries of what’s happening with US climate.

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