Sunday, January 13, 2013

Climate assessment warns of devastating warming

Perhaps it’s this chart they don’t want folks talking about, from the “Newer Simulations for Projected Temperature” in Chapter 2:The rule in Washington, DC is if you want to bury news, release it late on a Friday afternoon. So one can only assume the climate silence crowd prevailed in the release this afternoon of the draft U.S. Climate Assessment.
Projected rise in average U.S. surface air temperature 2071-2099 relative to 1971-2000. This is RCP 8.5, “a scenario that assumes continued increases in emissions,” with CO2 levels hitting about 940 parts per million. It is close to theemissions path we are currently on — but not the worst-case scenario and notwhere still-rising temperatures would end up post-2100.
The Assessment, put together by dozens of the country’s top climate experts, makes clear that if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path, we are headed towards a devastating 9°F to 15°F warming over most of the United States (this century), with ever-worsening extreme weather, heat waves, deluges and droughts. As the report notes “generally, wet [areas] get wetter and dry get drier.” Future generations will be wishing for the boring “moist” and “cool” days of 2012 (when they aren’t cursing our names).
But if the administration were to give this news the attention it is due, then it would have to prioritize climate action above gun-control and immigration and deficit reduction (or, in the latter case, insist upon a carbon tax as part of any comprehensive deficit bill). For the Administration, climate action appears to always be the lowest of top priorities — and when the priorities above it (like health care, economic stimulus) are dealt with, new priorities take their place at the top of the list.
In a statement (bel0w), Center for American Progress Distinguished Senior Fellow Carol M. Browner, former EPA administrator and former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, said that the Assessment makes clear “The time to act is now” with “significantly steeper reductions in industrial carbon pollution” than we’ve seen to date — if we are to avoid the worst impacts. She notes the report makes clear, “no part of the nation is safe” from manmande climate change.
Here are the key points from the Assessment’s Executive Summary:

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