Friday, June 19, 2009

CLIMATE CHANGE ALREADY AFFECTING COUNTRY

Daily Climate - The Obama Administration released a report showing climate disruption is already leaving deep imprints on every sector of the environment and that the consequences of these changes will grow steadily worse in coming decades.

The 196-page report . . . finds that global warming has touched every corner: Heavier downpours, strengthened heat waves, altered river flows and extended growing seasons. . .

For instance, since 1900 global average temperatures have risen 1.5 degrees (F) and are expected to rise another 2 degrees given emissions already in the atmosphere but not yet reflected in slow-moving climate systems.

Yet temperatures are rising faster over land than over the ocean and more during the winter than any other season. The result, according to scientists, is that winter temperatures across the Great Plains and Midwest are now some 7 degrees warmer than historical norms.

And that means a reduction in Great Lakes ice cover, which leads to more evaporation, lower water levels and consequent impacts on shipping, infrastructure, beaches and ecosystems.

Meanwhile the Caribbean and Southeast will see increases in wind, rain and storm surges. California and the Southwest will see drier summers. All will see impacts to human health, water supply, agriculture and other aspects of society, the report's authors concluded.

In Chicago, for instance, annual heat-related deaths per six million people could rise from less than 200 that the city saw in the mid-1970s to almost 700 one generation from now.

In the Northwest, the spring snow pack has already declined 25 percent over the past 40 to 70 years. It will likely shrink another 40 percent by the 2040s, the report said, seriously stressing water supplies, agricultural production and hydropower. . .