Impact of Climate Change Hitting Home, U.S. Report Finds

According to a Congress mandated study, 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 draft of the U.S. National Climate Assessment, 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.

There had been an increase in average U.S. temperatures of about 1.5 degrees F (0.83 degree C) since 1895, when reliable national record-keeping began, more than 80 percent had occurred in the past three decades.

With heat-trapping gases already in the atmosphere, temperatures could rise by a further 2 to 4 degrees F (1.1 to 2.2 degrees C) in most parts of the country over the next few decades.

Certain positive consequences of rising temperatures, such as a longer growing season, were said to be offset by more disruptive impacts, including:

– threats to human health from increased extreme weather events, wildfires and air pollution, as well as diseases spread by insects and through food and water;

– less reliable water supply, and the potential for water rights to become a hot-button legal issue;

– more vulnerable infrastructure due to sea-level rise, bigger storm surges, heavy downpours and extreme heat;

– warmer and more acidic oceans.

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