Climate Change Already Affects Every American—Report

Climate Change Already Affects Every American—Report

by RP Siegel

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Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 4:40pm



There is an area in the southeastern U.S., running from Georgia west to Oklahoma and from Louisiana north through Tennessee, that has experienced a slight decline in temperatures over the past twenty years. Other pockets in the Upper Midwest and extreme Southwest and elsewhere have seen temperature increases of greater than two degrees Fahrenheit. The rest of the country has experienced a temperature rise of between one and two degrees.

If those numbers don’t seem too worrisome, consider the fact that the additional heat retained in the atmosphere has led to droughts, flooding, record temperatures every year and severe storms. The oceans have risen due to the expansion of warmed water, with the addition of melted ice. The loss of snow cover reduces the amount of heat reflected back into space. Perhaps the most dangerous mechanism is the fact that warmer air can hold more moisture than cooler air. This has two impacts. First, since water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas, this raises the temperature even further. But once all that moisture is in the atmosphere, it is free to move around, depriving some regions while drenching others.

It seems as if, our weather, like our politics, has become more extreme and more polarized, with some areas getting wetter and others getting drier.

Precipitation changes have been ranging from a 15% drop in certain drought-prone areas like Arizona and Georgia to a 15% increase in New England and the Upper Midwest. Overall, precipitation has risen by around 3% on average.

The scientific basis linking extreme weather events, such as heat waves and heavy downpours with climate changed has strengthened, according to University of Illinois climate scientist Donald Wuebbles, one of the report’s lead authors.

All of this information and much more are contained in a new National Climate Assessment report that was released by the White House this week. The 800-page report, which took eight years to produce, relies on contributions from hundreds of scientists. The scientists are projecting that by the end of this century, the temperature will likely be five degrees higher, even if we act aggressively. If we fail to act, the temperature rise could be as much as ten degrees.

Image Credit: Rudolph Viček, Flickr Creative Commons

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RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. He has been published in business and technical journals and has written three books. His third, co-authored with Roger Saillant, is Vapor Trails, an eco-thriller that is being adapted for the big screen. RP is a professional engineer – and a prolific inventor, with 50 patents, numerous awards, and several commercial products. He is president of Rain Mountain LLC and is an active environmental advocate in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y. In addition to Justmeans, he writes for Triple Pundit, ThomasNet News, and Energy Viewpoints, occasionally contributing to Mechanical Engineering, Strategy + Business, and Huffington Post. You can follow RP on Twitter, @RPSiegel. 

CATEGORY: Environment