On May 6 the United States Global Change Research Program released its third National Climate Assessment, which concluded that the United States is already feeling negative effects from climate change and that these effects will worsen over time. The Assessment also concluded that there is now stronger evidence showing that human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, are contributing to climate change.
The Assessment was prepared by more than 300 experts and a 60-member National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee. Stakeholder input was also received from public and private sector decision-makers, resource and environmental managers, researchers, the business and non-governmental organization communities, and the general public.
Click here to download either the full report (~840 pages) or a smaller highlights summary (~150 pages).
KEY FINDINGS OF THE ASSESSMENT
- 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.
- Some extreme weather and climate events have increased in recent decades, and new and stronger evidence confirms that some of these increases are related to human activities.
- Human-induced climate change is projected to continue, and it will accelerate significantly if global emissions of heat-trapping gases continue to increase.
- Impacts related to climate change are already evident in many sectors and are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond.
- 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.
- Infrastructure is being damaged by sea level rise, heavy downpours, and extreme heat; damages are projected to increase with continued climate change.
- Water quality and water supply reliability are jeopardized by climate change in a variety of ways that affect ecosystems and livelihoods.
- Climate disruptions to agriculture have been increasing and are projected to become more severe over this century.
- Climate change poses particular threats to Indigenous Peoples’ health, well-being, and ways of life.
- Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being affected by climate change. The capacity of ecosystems to buffer the impacts of extreme events like fires, floods, and severe storms is being overwhelmed.
- Ocean waters are becoming warmer and more acidic, broadly affecting ocean circulation, chemistry, ecosystems, and marine life.
- Planning for adaptation (to address and prepare for impacts) and mitigation (to reduce future climate change, for example by cutting emissions) is becoming more widespread, but current implementation efforts are insufficient to avoid increasingly negative social, environmental, and economic consequences.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, Maryland adopted one of the strongest state-level plans to address climate change last year. Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan will require a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) from their 2006 level by 2020 and outlines a broad series of recommendations for both reducing GHGs and adapting to existing climate change.