Impact of climate change hits home, US report finds
By Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters
January 13, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
WASHINGTON--The consequences of climate change are now hitting the United States on several fronts, including health, infrastructure, water supply, agriculture and especially more frequent severe weather, a congressionally mandated study has concluded.
A draft of the U.S. National Climate Assessment, released on Friday, said observable change to the climate in the past half-century "is due primarily to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuel," and that no areas of the United States were immune to change.
"Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience," the report said.
Months after Superstorm Sandy hurtled into the U.S. East Coast, causing billions of dollars in damage, the report concluded that severe weather was the new normal.
"Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts," the report said, days after scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2012 the hottest year ever in the United States.
Some environmentalists looked for the report to energize climate efforts by the White House or Congress, although many Republican lawmakers are wary of declaring a definitive link between human activity and evidence of a changing climate.
The U.S. Congress has been mostly silent on climate change since efforts to pass "cap-and-trade" legislation collapsed in the Senate in mid-2010.
The 1,146 page draft report is available at http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/. A three-month period for public comment will now ensue, as well as a review by the National Academies of Sciences, before the final version is produced.
The advisory committee behind the report was established by the U.S. Department of Commerce to integrate federal research on environmental change and its implications for society. It made two earlier assessments, in 2000 and 2009.