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2014 SkS News Bulletin #4: Third U.S. National Climate Assessment

Posted on 8 May 2014 by John Hartz

5 things you can do about climate change

Climate change isn't something in the far-off future: It's a potentially disastrous reality that's already starting to have effects that are expected to worsen, experts say.

Longer summers and heavier rainfalls are some of the impacts Americans are already seeing, according to the National Climate Assessment. We should expect more flooding, wildfires and drought.

The report, a new White House update released Tuesday, calls for urgent action on climate change.

So what can you do at home to take action?

5 things you can do about climate change by Elizabeth Landau, CNN, May 6, 2014

Climate change a threat to ‘human health and well-being,’

Climate change, no longer a distant worry, now “threatens human health and well-being,” U.S. scientists warn in a new, comprehensive report released Tuesday.

Climatologists in Canada caution the impacts are the same here, too.

“Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including through more extreme weather events and wildfire, decreased air quality, and diseases transmitted by insects, food, and water,” says the over 800-page report without mincing any words.

The National Climate Assessment, compiled by 300 experts south of the border, deals specifically with the impact on the U.S. and was formally released by the White House.

Climate change a threat to ‘human health and well-being,’ by  Raveena Aulakh, Toronto Star, May 6, 2014

Climate change has “moved firmly into the present”

Saying that climate change has “moved firmly into the present,” a federal scientific panel Tuesday released a report cataloging the impacts of such changes, saying some would actually be beneficial “but many more are detrimental.”

The American Southeast and Caribbean region is “exceptionally vulnerable” to rising sea levels, extreme heat events, hurricanes and decreased water resources, the report said. Seven major ports in the region are vulnerable. And residents can expect a significant increase in the number of hot days – defined as 95 degrees or above – as well as decreases in freezing events.

“Large numbers of southeastern cities, roads, railways, ports, airports, oil and gas facilities and water supplies are vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise,” the report concluded. Among the cities most at risk: Miami; Tampa, Fla.; Charleston, S.C.; New Orleans, and Virginia Beach, Va.

Climate change has “moved firmly into the present” by Chris Adams, McClatchy Washington Bureau, May 6, 2014 

Climate change impacts of the southeast U.S.

Heat. Drought. Sea level rise and invasive species. The Southeast and Caribbean will escape few of the impacts of climate change, and the regions are already grappling with how to deal with many of them, according to the just-released National Climate Assessment.

The assessment calls the Southeast and the Caribbean regions “exceptionally vulnerable to sea level rise, extreme heat events, hurricanes, and decreased water availability.” Many of these impacts are already being felt by Southern states. Florida, in particular, has struggled to adapt to sea level rise and increased frequency of intense storms, Jennifer Jurado, Director of the Natural Resources Planning and Management Division in Broward County, Florida, told ThinkProgress.

The Southeast U.S. Has Had More Billion-Dollar Disasters Than The Rest Of The Country Combined by Katie Valentine, Climate Progress, May 7, 2014

Climate change is just caused by "nature" and "volcanoes"

Fox's Kilmeade on responding to climate change: "Put a sweater on, or take a sweater off."

Fox News Anchor Martha MacCallum: Climate Change Is Just Caused By "Nature" And "Volcanoes", Media Matters, May 7, 2014

Climate disruptions, close to home

Apart from the disinformation sowed by politicians content with the status quo, the main reason neither Congress nor much of the American public cares about global warming is that, as problems go, it seems remote. Anyone who reads the latest the National Climate Assessment, released on Tuesday, cannot possibly think that way any longer. The report is exhaustive and totally alarming.

The study, produced by scientists from academia, government and the private sector, is the definitive statement of the present and future effects of climate change on the United States. Crippling droughts will become more frequent in drier regions; torrential rains and storm surges will increase in wet regions; sea levels will rise and coral reefs in Hawaii and Florida will die. Readers can pick their own regional catastrophes, but here are three:

Climate Disruptions, Close to Home, The Editorial Board, New York Times, May 7, 2014

Dire outlook for climate impacts, new report says

The most dire government warning yet about climate change, released today, says that people are feeling the effects of warming here and now in the United States.

The National Climate Assessment, produced every four years by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, is the third report in the current series that outlines the present and ongoing effects of climate change on the country.

Citing record temperatures in the last decade, heavy rainfall and flooding in some places and drought in others, more frequent and stronger hurricanes, as well as winter storms, the report states: "Global climate is changing and this is apparent across the United States in a wide range of observations. The global warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels."

Dire Outlook for Climate Impacts, New Report Says by Lori Cuthbert, Discovery News, May 6, 2014

Is there anything that can awaken Americans to the danger? 

What will it take to get the American people to understand the dangers of climate change? Is there anything that can awaken them?

Many Americans and others understand what's happening and what's at stake, but the disturbing and puzzling reality is that many do not. And even as scientists strengthen their consensus view of the risks, the U.S. government seems nowhere near a consensus view of its own.

Yesterday, in anticipation of the release of the third National Climate Assessment by the federal government, the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said:

“Later today, we expect the president to talk about the weather at the White House,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Presumably, he’ll use the platform to renew his call for a national energy tax. And I’m sure he’ll get loud cheers from liberal elites — from the kind of people who leave a giant carbon footprint and then lecture everybody else about low-flow toilets.”

He further accused the Obama administration of waging a "war on coal."

Climate change: Is there anything that can awaken Americans to the danger? by Paul Raeburn, Knight Science Journalism Tracker, May 7, 2014

Midwest: More heat, more droughts, more floods, fewer crops

The 2014 National Climate Assessment, the single largest attempt to compile the science and data concerning climate change’s impact on the United States, was released on Tuesday. For the American Midwest, the report comes with some stark projections: more extreme heat, along with heavier downpours and flooding, and serious consequences for the ecosystems of the Great Lakes and for large portions of the region’s economy.

“Climate change is really the single largest issue that we’re dealing with not only as a country but particularly here in Michigan,” Nic Clark, Michigan Director of Clean Water Action, told ThinkProgress. “It’s impacting our way of life here and how people make a living.”

Temperatures in the Midwest have already risen over 1.5°F from 1900 to 2010, with the increase speeding up in the last 30 years.

The Impact Of Climate Change On The Midwest: More Heat, More Droughts, More Floods, Fewer Crops by Jeff Spross, Climate Progress, May 7, 2014

National Climate Assessment Report: warming here...and now

Tuesday, May 6, was a big news day for those in the climate change field in the U.S., with the formal release of the 2014 National Climate Assessment. Despite stiff competition from vital international news stories, the report garnered plenty of prime-time news coverage not only on network news shows, but also on cable outlets. President Obama’s string of one-on-one brief “exclusive” interviews with a handful of carefully chosen local TV meteorologists was part of an effort to put a local and “in my backyard” emphasis on an issue too often seen by the public as distant in time and remote in space.

National Climate Assessment Report: warming here...and now by Bruce Lieberman, Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media, May 7, 2014 

National climate report is a study in extremes

The White House pulled out all the stops for today’s rollout of the new National Climate Assessment (NCA), including making President Obamaavailable to talk to local and national weather people about global warming. The report itself — download the whole 839-page paper here — is an incredibly impressive piece of work, detailing the current impacts and projected effects of global warming in the U.S. across a range of geographic regions and economic sectors. Even better is thegovernment website dedicated to the NCA, which offers fascinating interactive and multimedia tools to help anyone see how climate change will affect their life, their community and their country. The entire document is much easier to understand — and much bolder — than the increasingly antiquated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments. If the U.S. were as good at stopping climate change as we are at studying it, we’d have nothing to fear. 

National Climate Report is a study in extremes by Bryan Walsh, Time (magazine), May 6, 2014

White House’s alarming climate change study calls for ‘urgent action’

While it remains unclear how many definitive reports it will take to convince everybody that climate change is a real, not-so-distant threat to our planet, the one released by the White House Tuesday morning will go a long way toward that cause.

Unlike other reports released in the past month, the National Climate Assessment (NCA) focuses solely on the U.S. and the droughts, downpours and more that will be boosted by manmade climate impacts. The report was prepared by 300 scientists managed by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a collaboration of 13 federal departments and agencies.

White House’s Alarming Climate Change Study Calls For ‘Urgent Action’ by Brandon Baker, EcoWatch, May 6, 2014

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