Government Climate Change Report Issued -- Despite Continued Skepticism, Evidence and Predictions of Significant Potential Damage Seem Difficult To Deny

The federal government, through the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), released the Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II, on the Friday following Thanksgiving. (Associated Press). The new report is part of an ongoing effort by the USGCRP, a Congressionally mandated program to coordinate federal research and investments in understanding the forces shaping the global environment, both human and natural, and their impacts on society. USGCRP facilitates collaboration and cooperation across its 13 federal member agencies. The latest report can be reviewed here, and a helpful summary written by some of the Assessment's authors is available at Eos.

The report indicates for the nation as a whole that widespread warming has resulted in increased intensity in climatic conditions including storms and droughts which have cost the U.S. approximately $400 billion over the past three years. It predicts that, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, the changing climate can be expected to cause substantial damage in different sectors of the U.S. economy by the end of the century. However, the anticipated adverse impacts on the nation's economy and physical health can be substantially reduced over this century by a combination of emissions reductions and local adaptive measures.

The report details potential impacts by region of the country. Particularly, with respect to the southeast, there are a number of predictions and interesting case studies of current conditions leading to troubling predictions of likely impacts in our region. For example, there is an extensive study of the potential impact of climate change on transportation and infrastructure systems in the Mobile, Alabama area. (Here and here). And the Alabama Department of Transportation is using the study to urge the construction of a new bridge over Mobile Bay. (TV 44).

In response to the release of the Assessment, President Trump continued to voice his view as a skeptic of climate change. ( Yet, individuals and companies appear to be preparing for anticipated changes. (N. Y. Times, November 30).

The evidence of a changing climate continues to mount, and one wonders whether the skeptics really have a plausible basis for denial.

Posted in: Climate Change
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