Climate change is already here and already messing things up.
Climate change has moved from distant threat to present-day danger and no American will be left unscathed, according to a landmark report due to be unveiled on Tuesday.
The National Climate Assessment, a 1,300-page report compiled by 300 leading scientists and experts, is meant to be the definitive account of the effects of climate change on the US. It will be formally released at a White House event and is expected to drive the remaining two years of Barack Obama’s environmental agenda.
Gary Yohe, an economist at Wesleyan University and vice-chair of the NCA advisory committee, said the US report would be unequivocal that the effects of climate change were occurring in real-time and were evident in every region of the country.
“One major take-home message is that just about every place in the country has observed that the climate has changed,” he told the Guardian. “It is here and happening, and we are not cherrypicking or fearmongering.”
But Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and the entire Republican party will say they are, just the same.
Some changes are already having a measurable effect on food production and public health, the report will say.
John Balbus, senior adviser at the National Institute of Environmenal Health Science and a lead author of the NCA report, said rising temperatures increased the risk of heat stroke and heat-related deaths.
Eugene Takle, convening lead author of the agriculture chapter of the NCA report, and director of the Climate Science programme at Iowa State University, said heatwaves and changes in rainfall had resulted in a levelling off in wheat and corn production and would eventually cause declines.
And elsewhere in the world…the real terror is the melting of Himalayan glaciers and thus the loss of irrigation from the great rivers those glaciers feed and thus famine in much of Asia.
The assessments are the American equivalent of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. This year’s report for the first time looks at what America has done to fight climate change or protect people from its consequences in the future.
Under an act of Congress the reports were supposed to be produced every four years, but no report was produced during George W Bush’s presidency.