The Obama administration's top science and climate advisers released a report yesterday reiterating, yet again, the reality of human-induced climate change -- one that is becoming increasingly difficult for skeptics to deny. Representatives from 13 federal agencies worked together to release the report, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States," which is fully accessible online.
Released by the US Global Change Research Program, yesterday's report lays out observable changes that have occurred in the United States in past decades. It also includes easy to read charts predicting changes in coming decades, with projections ranging from best to worst case scenarios. For instance, a chart predicting the number of days per year that will spike over 90 degrees in Boston provides a range; by 2070, there could be close to 65 scorching-hot days if we follow the "higher emission scenario," and only slightly over 30 in the "lower emission scenario."
The web version of the report is quite easy to navigate, and were the subject matter not so grim it could even be sort of fun to browse through. The home page features an interactive map of the United States, where you can select any region of the country for a current and future snapshot of our changing climate. This snapshot is comprehensive, not only looking at encroaching coastlines and temperature hikes, but also at shifts in agricultural growing seasons, the expected northward movement of fisheries, electricity shortages due to overwhelming demand for air conditioning, and more. After you're done looking at the climate change prognosis by region, you can search by sector. The report provides seven to choose from: Water Resources, Energy Supply and Use, Transportation, Agriculture, Ecosystems, Human Health, and Society.
Despite all the bad news, "Global Climate Change Impact in the United States" leaves lots of room for positivity. Sixteen science and environmental groups released a statement praising the report, and the overwhelming reaction among environmentalists is one of relief. After eight years of roadblocks, the U.S. has an administration that is willing to look at scientific evidence and take action through the support of a growing green economy. With Waxman-Markey still up for debate, we can only hope yesterday's report will help strengthen policymakers' resolve.