The impact of global warming is impossible to miss: from super storms to super droughts, there is hardly any area untouched by climate change. Globally, the average temperature has risen by 1.5 degrees – 80-percent of this rise came after 1980, and the last decade was the warmest on record. To understand the impact of this warming, the US Department of Commerce commissions a report every 4-years, though no reports were submitted during the presidency of George W. Bush. The report for this year includes 240 scientists from various areas across the US including NASA and the Climate Center at Texas Tech University. The report gives concrete evidence that global warming has already impacted the US, and it shows that the effects of climate change are only going to get worse.

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According to the report, every area of the US has and will continue to see the impact of climate change – from droughts in Hawaii to flooding in the northeast. Climate change has already impacted agricultural practices, with further reductions in crops and livestock expected. Infrastructure in the US is already in a fragile state, and it will be further tested by the flooding of coastal bridges, tunnels and airports. Western forests, decimated by insects, fire and disease will continue to die off. And in Alaska, summer sea ice is becoming rare and will likely be eliminated entirely by midcentury. Seas in the northwest will continue to acidify and precious groundwater levels, which have already been impacted in the southeast, will continue to drop.

The study emphasizes the fact that while much of the conversation around global warming focuses on future impact, that impact is already being felt. According to the study, without new public policies regarding greenhouse gases, the problem will only increase – and while voluntary activities have helped, they are insufficient to make the type of impact required to slow global warming. For the next 3 months, the report will be open for comments which can be submitted at the report website.

+ National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee

Via Scientific American and

Images © Jaako and U.S. Geological Survey