"Today's release of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's National Climate Assessment (NCA) report underscores a point that is becoming increasingly hard to deny: Climate change is real, the effects are impacting our lives today and increasing at a rapid pace, and the science that supports these findings is legitimate and impossible to ignore.
"Climate change poses a direct and immediate threat to our health, our economic stability and global competitiveness, our natural resource and energy supplies, and ultimately, the very security of our nation.
"The NCA explains how each region of the U.S. is faring under climate change, and what we can expect in the future. For example, in 2011, both Texas and Oklahoma experienced more than 100 days over 100 degrees F; the heat and resulting drought depleted water resources and contributed to more than $10 billion in direct losses to agriculture alone. The report cites data that show the probability of such heat and drought events has more than doubled as a result of human-induced climate change. And in the Northeast, 1.6 million people live within FEMA's 100-year coastal flood zone, the majority of whom reside in New York and New Jersey, states ravaged by the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The report notes that climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of flooding and sea level rise in these communities.
"From drought and flooding risks, to food insecurity and increased risk of disease, small towns and large states, the agricultural and energy sectors, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street are feeling the consequences today.
"Some communities are already starting to address the impacts of climate change and prepare for the future – but much, much more needs to be done. The type of information the NCA provides is exactly what they need to make critical decisions about things like how much to spend on flood control and how to protect homes and infrastructure.
"At the same time, we know that it will be a challenge to adapt to all of the effects we may experience. Lessening those negative outcomes will require rapid responses – responses that are informed by science and that reflect the perspectives and commitment of government, the public, and private stakeholders.
"AGU's members are on the front lines of addressing the nation's growing climate change problem, through their research and their commitment to communicating that knowledge to the public. Many of them were involved in the creation of the NCA, and research that was published in AGU journals is extensively cited throughout the report. We are also dedicating a full day of sessions at our upcoming Science Policy Conference to bringing together stakeholders for solution-focused discussions on what we know, what we can do, and how we can all work together.
"From taking steps to reduce the magnitude of climate change, such as reducing emissions, to providing vulnerable communities with the resources they need to adapt and prepare, and ensuring that policy decisions are informed by credible and up-to-date science, the NCA report clearly demonstrates that the time for action is now."
The American Geophysical Union is dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs. AGU is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization representing more than 62,000 members in 144 countries. Join our conversation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media channels.
SOURCE American Geophysical Union