The White House Speaks Out

On June 17, the White House’s United States Global Change Research Program published and publicly presented a study of the impact of global warming on America’s future in their presentation entitled “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States”. The purposes of the presentation were to encourage the public to make decisions to avoid future vulnerability and to inform the public about the consequences of action versus inaction.

Damaging changes presenters highlighted included a rise in overall global temperature, an increase in heavy rain, decreased snowfall and earlier snow melt (which will effect rivers), and an overall sea- level rise. It was noted that change is to be expected, but that if we can achieve lower emissions, the consequences will be far less staggering than if we were to continue on our current pollution trajectory.

Presenters went on to classify a range of possible global warming outcomes as either “higher emissions scenarios” or “lower emissions scenarios”, indicating what our country will look and feel like if we do nothing or act, respectively. Framers pointed out that inaction will result in population losses due to heat- related illness (which they pointed out would happen especially in cities). Representatives pointed out the alarming change in and damage to water resources as well as a projected decrease in agricultural growth due to increased heat, pests, diseases, and unpredictable weather in the American Midwest and other farming communities.

Another aspect touched on by presenters, one which stunned audiences in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, was the probable sea level rise that would devastate coastal areas and the many major cities in them. Florida was highlighted as one of the to-be most severely effected states, which would lose cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Fort Myers to rising sea levels.

To close, experts outlined two major response strategies needed to prevent climate disaster. “Mitigation,” they explained, was “reducing the amount of climate change, for example, by reducing heat-trapping emissions or increasing their removal from the atmosphere”. Their second strategy is “adaptation”, or, “improving our ability to cope with or avoid harmful impacts or taking advantage of newly favorable conditions.”

To view the hour-long presentation or to download the power-point used in the meeting, go tohttp://www.globalchange.gov/publications/reports/scientific-assessments/us-impacts/newsroom.

Share your thoughts on this presentation or on the White House’s treatment of global warming issues below!

by M. Molendyke

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