By Gary Braasch, © June 18, 2009.
Global climate change impacts across the United States are spelled out with renewed authority in a report released June 16 by the federal government. It marks the strongest and clearest statement from Washington that global warming’s effects are being felt over broad regions of the nation. (Available at http://globalchange.gov)
The details of the report will not be news to readers of my book, Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming Is Changing the World, which was published nearly two years ago with extensive details and photographs of how rising greenhouse gases are indeed making great changes across the world. The book’s paperback edition, issued this April, carries extensive updates from many of the same sources as the new federal report.
When Earth Under Fire was first published, the Bush administration was in power. Many scientists, commentators and citizens were chafing under what was broadly seen as government obfuscation of science and its choice to neither report on nor take comprehensive action about global warming. Indeed, the Bush government was sued over its failure to provide reports required by law.
Now those reports have been issued, 21 in all, by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The June 16 overview, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” was published and sent to Congress by President Obama’s science appointees Dr. John Holdren in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Dr. Jane Lubchenco at NOAA. Both scientists are sources for and are quoted in Earth Under Fire.
The federal report is remarkable for its clear voice on the changes seen now and the short term implications for major economic sectors and geographical regions of the nation. It describes where we are headed with declarative candor:
- “U.S. average temperature has risen more than 2°F over the past 50 years and is projected to rise more in the future.”
- “Climate change will interact with many social and environmental stresses.”
- “Thresholds will be crossed, leading to large changes in climate and ecosystems.”
- “Future climate change and its impacts depend on choices made today.”
- “Lower emissions of heat-trapping gases will delay the appearance of climate change impacts and lessen their magnitude. Unless the rate of emissions is substantially reduced, impacts are expected to become increasingly severe for more people and places.
It does not recommend any laws, policies or technologies to achieve those reductions – but of course the President’s cabinet, the Congress and businesses, states, cities and citizens everywhere are beginning to take action. For information about these actions and technologies, and the broad impact of climate change over the entire world, you may turn to Earth Under Fire. It remains in step with this new U. S. report and ahead of the news about global warming’s strong implications — from sea to sky, pole to pole, and from international policy to our daily lives.
Order the book today on www.ucpress.edu and save 20%. Use code 09W6936 in the shopping cart at checkout.