Global Warming

The US is Warned “Wake Up to Global Warming Threat”

Despite the warning of the “Climate Change and Our Nation” report, corporate interests in the US managed to undermine the climate negotiations in the Netherlands last November.

Global warming could end cold winters in the Northeast and wipe out the alpine meadows of the Rockies and Florida’s coral reefs, says a coalition of US government agencies in a report released on June 12, 2000.

The report, called “Climate Change and Our Nation,” is the first national assessment of the potential consequences of climate change over the next 100 years. The National Assessment Synthesis Team, a group of 14 climate change impacts experts who authored the report, hope it will awaken Americans to the threat of climate change and spur efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Among the team’s findings are:

  • Assuming continued growth in world greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures in the US will rise 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit (3-6 degrees Celsius) on average in the next 100 years.
  • Climate change will vary widely across the US Temperature increases will vary regionally. Heavy and extreme precipitation is likely to become more frequent, but some regions will get drier. The potential impacts of climate change will also vary widely across the nation. Ecosystems are highly vulnerable to the projected rate and magnitude of climate change. Alpine meadows in the Rocky Mountains and some barrier islands, are likely to disappear entirely. Other ecosystems, such as forests of the Southeast, are likely to experience major species shifts or breakup. The goods and services lost through the disappearance or fragmentation of certain ecosystems are likely to be costly or impossible to replace.
  • Climate change and the resulting rise in sea levels are likely to worsen threats to buildings, roads, power lines and other infrastructures along the coast. Sea level rise is likely to cause the loss of some barrier beaches, islands, and wetlands, and worsen storm surges and flooding during storms.
  • Overall, US crop productivity is likely to increase over the next few decades, but the gains will not be uniform across the nation. Falling prices and competition are likely to stress some farmers. Pests, droughts and floods could reduce some of the benefits from higher temperatures, precipitation and carbon dioxide, the report predicts.

“America’s alarm bells should go off today,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Change Campaign. “The National Assessment shows that now more than ever the US must act to protect its national treasures.” Morgan was joined by a host of science and environmental groups who praised the report as a balanced assessment of the potential impacts of climate variability and change.

“This report brings the meaning of global climate change home to every American,” said Dr. Susanne Moser of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Even if the impacts ultimately manifest differently from what the report projects, everyone will experience some changes, and everyone should know that climate change is not science fiction. In some regions, like Alaska, the impacts of warming are here, now.”

“Climate change is already happening,” said Dr. Janine Bloomfield, senior scientist at Environmental Defense. “Because greenhouse gases stay in the earth’s atmosphere for decades, the time for action is now. Reducing emissions is the most important action we can take now to minimize damage to people, ecosystems, and economies.”

“The assessment shows that many of the country’s distinct natural features could deteriorate as a result of changing climate,” said Dr. Susan Subak, a senior research associate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Whether we’re talking about fisheries and recreational areas on the coasts, or the habitats of America’s mountains and deserts, rising temperatures will put further stress on our natural areas.”

The report makes clear that ecosystems altered by climate change affect all Americans because the nation’s economy depends on the sustained bounty of land, water, native plant and animal communities.

It warns that warming over the 20th century, which saw the average annual US temperature rise by almost one degree F. (0.6 degrees C.) and precipitation increase by five to 10 percent, is set to accelerate rapidly in the 21st century.
“No matter how aggressively emissions are reduced, the world will still experience some climate change,” the report states. “This is because elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases will remain in the atmosphere for decades as the climate system responds only slowly to changes in human inputs.”

The National Assessment Synthesis Team was convened by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. More than 300 scientific and technical experts, overseen by a team of 14 senior scientists, helped produce the multistage peer reviewed process that preceded the report, unveiled by the Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The USGCRP was created as a Presidential Initiative in 1989 by then President George Bush and formalized by the Global Change Research Act of 1990.

Working with research institutions in the U.S. and other countries, the USGCRP provides the scientific foundation for increasing the accuracy of understand climate fluctuations and long term climate change. “This report is yet another blow to the global warming nay-sayers. It confirms the validity of the science and the seriousness of the impacts on human health, our economy and our environment,” said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.

The Climate Change negotiations at The Hague last November on details of how to implement the Kyoto Protocol (which sets limits on the emission of six gases linked to global warming by the five year period 2008 to 2012) were supposed to determine how acceptable the limits on greenhouse gases will be to the 39 industrial nations that must ratify this treaty.

The protocol has been signed by 84 nations, but no nation governed by the agreement, including the United States, has ratified it. Before it takes effect, 55 percent of the nations that signed the protocol representing 55 percent of the actual greenhouse gases emitted in the world, must ratify the treaty. The November negotiations were considered critical to ratification.

Climate Change Could Bankrupt Us by 2065

The sixth largest insurance company has warned that damage to property due to global warming could bankrupt the world by 2065.

Dr. Andrew Dlugolecki, director of general insurance development at CGNU, a top five European life insurer and the United Kingdom’s largest insurance group, told delegates attending the international climate change summit in The Hague that the rate of damage caused by changing weather will exceed the world’s wealth.

“Property damage is rising very rapidly, at something like 10 percent a year,” he told a briefing at the 6th Conference of Parties (COP 6) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change last November.

“We’ve still not yet really begun to see the effects of climate change in the West. What we are seeing so far is largely the result of more people living in areas which are becoming more dangerous.

“But once this thing begins to happen, it will accelerate extremely rapidly, as the IPCC report makes clear.”

Dlugolecki contributed to a Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report due out next year. The IPCC consists of more than 2,500 scientists from around the world, and its first assessment report in 1990 was used as the basis for negotiating the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Dlugolecki said that the current rate of growth of damage of 10 percent a year will exceed Gross Domestic Product by 2065. He added that the insurance industry was in danger of “running out of money,” to deal with the disasters. Some scientists believe extreme weather events will become more frequent as the world warms.

Dlugolecki proposes a more radical approach to climate change than is being discussed at COP 6. The concept, known as contraction and convergence, has long been promoted by the London based group the Global Commons Institute (GCI) which describes itself as an independent group of people whose aim is the protection of the “Global Commons.” It fears the world may be driven beyond the threshold of psychic ecological stability by the relentless pursuit of economic growth.

Provided by the Environment News Service (ENS)

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