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US Climate Report Says Global Warming Impact Already Severe 627

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-it-was-cold-yesterday dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Darryl Fears reports in the Washington Post on the U.S. government's newest national assessment of climate change. It says Americans are already feeling the effects of global warming. The assessment carves the nation into sections and examines the impacts: More sea-level rise, flooding, storm surge, precipitation and heat waves in the Northeast; frequent water shortages and hurricanes in the Southeast and Caribbean; more drought and wildfires in the Southwest. 'Residents of some coastal cities see their streets flood more regularly during storms and high tides. Inland cities near large rivers also experience more flooding, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. Insurance rates are rising in some vulnerable locations, and insurance is no longer available in others. Hotter and drier weather and earlier snow melt mean that wildfires in the West start earlier in the spring, last later into the fall, and burn more acreage. In Arctic Alaska, the summer sea ice that once protected the coasts has receded, and autumn storms now cause more erosion, threatening many communities with relocation.' The report concludes that over recent decades, climate science has advanced significantly and that increased scrutiny has led to increased certainty that we are now seeing impacts associated with human-induced climate change. 'What is new over the last decade is that we know with increasing certainty that climate change is happening now. While scientists continue to refine projections of the future, observations unequivocally show that climate is changing and that the warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases.'"
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US Climate Report Says Global Warming Impact Already Severe

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  • by dicobalt (1536225) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:23PM (#46932383)
    It looks like they are having a hard time discerning predictions and actual events. The 2013 Atlantic season had ZERO major hurricanes, and only TWO total hurricanes. []
  • Very one sided (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:25PM (#46932425)

    It's extremely difficult to accept at face value a report that says every possible outcome from climate change is bad.

    Especially when it comes from an administration that campaigned on the theme of change.

    Several of the items they cite are not even principally related to climate change, but to population and
    population density increases, and to past fire suppression policies. People being people, not people changing the climate.

  • Re:sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:28PM (#46932467)
    See, this is why I don't think global warming matters much after all. We're collectively incapable of preventing it because our minds just aren't made to care about long-term issues that can only be understood analytically. But by the same token, when thousands of people die and trillions of dollars are wasted unnecessarily, we also won't care about that, because it will happen over many decades, and we'll never know for sure which individual people died unnecessarily, or by what percentage our bank balances would have been larger without global warming, and anyways the TV reporting will be interesting to watch and we can fly Old Glory over the wreckage and take pictures of stuffed animals in the rubble and so forth. So, it's all good.
  • by rubycodez (864176) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:35PM (#46932553)

    not at all, it's happened before. And there was this little thing in the 1930s called the "dust bowl", guess that hot and dry spell was caused by model-T emissions. And sea level rise has been going on for 12,000 years since the last ice age, and for much of that time at a greater rate than now.

    This chicken littles have lost what little credibility they might have had, it's sad because there are so many other downsides to carbon pollution that are quite verifiable in the here and now.

  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:35PM (#46932563)
    While I believe this report is overall truthful, I can't help but think of Clair Cameron Patterson []. It took him 20 years of fighting corporations and their "bought and payed for" scientists to convince enough people in our government that the nation was dying due to lead poisoning to actually do something about it. This despite the fact that the reality of it was in-your-face blatant the whole time. We should all consider him a hero and be thankful that he solely lead the charge against the ridicule he faced. Although a largely unsung and unknown hero, he really did save the nation. The convincing that needs done now is a bit more diverse and politically complicated. Lets hope we come to our senses in time on the issue of climate change as we did with lead.
  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:38PM (#46932589) Homepage Journal

    Come on, this is Newscience. Predictive ability of a theory has no relevance anymore. All you have to do is keep issuing more and more dire warning and lots of press releases, backed by a consensus. In Newscience, if you repeat a mantra often enough, it becomes true.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:40PM (#46932599)

    This is part of the problem. The people who predict this stuff say that it is going to be a bad year, then the exact opposite happens. Or they make wild claims like average temps are going to rise X degrees in the next 30 years, but then 40 years later they only go up a small fraction of that figure. It makes it look like they don't know what they are doing, and fuels the other side of the argument. Someone needs to tell these fools to stop making predictions, and just report the facts.

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:40PM (#46932607)
    Actually, the Dust Bowl was mostly caused by human actions, but please don't let _facts_ cause you to pull your head out of the sand.
  • by JudgeFurious (455868) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:43PM (#46932647)
    I live on the Gulf coast and I've been hearing that insurance rates are going to go through the roof my entire life. There's more development on the Gulf coast now than there ever was before and the vast majority of that isn't owned by all the poor people being left behind to "take the pain".
  • by meta-monkey (321000) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:44PM (#46932673) Journal

    It didn't change. Global warming and climate change are two distinct things. Climate change is the result of global warming.

  • by RocketScientist (15198) * on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:50PM (#46932723)

    I think the President should go on a few more golf outings, you know, fly in his big old 747 to somewhere far away and play a round or two, and then fly back to DC. Then, we need to have a UN Climate Summit somewhere tropical, and figure out how to solve the logistics problems inherent in having a meeting in a remote location, like how to make sure adequate supplies of caviar are flown in fresh daily and where to park all the jets ferrying individuals to their destination.

    I'll believe it's a problem when the people who are telling me it's a problem start acting like it's a problem. When the logistics problems go from caviar to videoconferencing bandwidth. When the President decides that golfing locally is a better idea than flying somewhere.

    "Oh, you just don't understand international diplomacy and the need for face-to-face communications to achieve consensus!"

    You're asking me to change my life and not accepting any changes in the way you live yours. Hypocrisy at its finest.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:52PM (#46932739) Journal

    There's this unspoken assumption by "both sides" that serious measures, i.e. a command-and-control type solution, is what the doctor has ordered.

    Yet a quick look around the world, and at history, shows we will be better off adapting and chamging rather than puttng brakes on things. The average wellbeing depends on a powerful economy to provide and invent. Command and control sucks at both, in spite of the apparently rational idea it should not. It is empirical data.

  • Re:sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by microbox (704317) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:52PM (#46932743)
    We could fix this problem easily with barely any significant change to our style of life. Sure there will be winners and loser, and the losers will be big oil/coal companies -- some of the most powerful institutions in the world -- and that's why nothing is being done. It is really easy to throw mud and claim there is "confusion" on whether AGW is happening. Meanwhile, they tell themselves a story about how CO2 isn't a pollutant, and doing anything would be communism, and therefore morally wrong.

    AGW is easy to solve compared to the little lies we tell ourselves about what is moral, in order to protect our little empires.
  • "Smoking" gun (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onkelonkel (560274) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:55PM (#46932775)
    The Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health came out in 1964. It clearly and undeniably showed the evidence that smoking was harmful. Now, 50 years later, only about 1/2 of the states have actually banned smoking in enclosed public spaces.

    Why does anyone expect America to respond to AGW any quicker or more effectively?
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:57PM (#46932801)

    Let's pretend that a tiny tiny sampling of hurricane frequency matters a whit.

    If so, then plainly climate change is REDUCING the frequency of hurricanes. So then why again should we panic about climate change if in fact it makes coastal life calmer?

  • by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:57PM (#46932813) Homepage

    When the international communities remark with amazement at how recalcitrant american business, government, and even its own people are to even the suggestion of climate change I cant help but wonder if, as an american, people from other countries have a full understanding of just what it would mean for us to change...Everything we do, and all that we are, is prediacted upon cheap reliably supplied oil. this was a decision made after world war 2 and reinforced by the carter doctrine of foreign policy. it was a horrendous mistake.

    We dont have local farms or slaughterhouses. everything is created in one place, and delivered by trucks that run on roads subsidized by american taxpayers from one of maybe a handful of factory farms dotted throughout the midwest. American markets have no season; if you want a jackfruit, it can and will be delivered more than two thousand miles to you and the ramifications of that is not even a cursory consideration. Drinks are kept cold, constantly. Ice is plentifully and liberally added to nearly any beverage you get. Beer hovers somewhere around the freezing mark. We can do this because the way we approach energy is just as we had in the 50's.

    our rail system is no different than it was in the early 50's. slight modifications have been made to handle larger cargo, but the system runs at around 40 miles per hour and carries only the most cumbersome goods. Cars, Coal, shale oil and natural gas are the chief passengers. toxins too dangerous to transport by semi truck, things like hydrofluoric acid, are also frequently transported. Corridor rail systems used in boston and LA that do in fact transport people are powered exclusively by diesel, as are all our rail systems. We have minimal and fiercely debated electric light rail systems in some cities, and some have transitioned their busses to natural gas, however outside our largest four or five metropolitan areas every transportation request you have will be granted by the automobile.

    Im not trying to justify what we do or why we do it. Its sad, and unsustainable in my opinion but whats important to understand is that acknowledging climate change and doing something productive about it in America means infrastructure overhaul not seen since Franklin Delano Rosevelt. It means the average 1 hour american car drive to work has to stop. Perpetually illuminated office buildings have to stop. Cities like phoenix will have to stop landscaping bluegrass lawns and water features into communities and we as a nation will have to swallow a nice big slice of 'we did it wrong' pie. The reasons we dont do anything about this problem are mostly political, but under the politics and the money, you have a system of society that is at its foundation based on conspicuous, questionless consumption and the planned obsolescence of nearly everything. anything to retard or stymy consumption is seen as a natural threat.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:00PM (#46932851) Journal

    The whole thing will stop smelling like a religion when they stop CONSTANTLY trying to stretch some tissue-paper-thin suppositions into policy prescriptions.

    I stopped reading at "...frequent water shortages and hurricanes in the Southeast and Caribbean..." []

    Essentially, the link between global warming and hurricanes is hotly (get it?) debated, the data inconclusive and contradictory. My understanding is that reasonable scientists disagree on this one. To use this as wall paper in some recent 'boilerplate of doom' just proves that they lack any sense of their own incredibility.

  • And how would we have adopted to lead poisoning? We put the brakes on lead, CFCs, China-style air pollution (see: late 1800s/early 1900s US) and just dumping toxic shit into the environment until the land went barren and the rivers caught fire, and yet we're still here. We command and controlled those problems into submission like a bunch of commies and yet there are no bread lines.

    You might want to take a closer look at history.

  • Re:sigh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by NotDrWho (3543773) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:12PM (#46933039)

    I've said it before and I'll say it again:

    No one can predict the future.

    The only thing you can accurately predict about the future is that it won't be what you expect. It will surprise you in a million different ways. Issues which seem very important today won't mean jackshit in the future. And issues that seem insignificant today could be very important then. You can construct every potential doomsday and utopian scenario that you like, but the future will somehow defy all of them and be something entirely different.

  • by funwithBSD (245349) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:13PM (#46933061)

    Considering the cherry picked "Hockey stick" incident, I would put down those stones and prove your case first, before trying to break some else's glass house.

  • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:17PM (#46933121) Homepage

    If you think the climate scientists have anything to do with all of that nonsense, you are sadly mistaken. I sincerely doubt any of them even have access to a private jet.

    Don't mistake the idiots that run things for the people who have a clue. There is little overlap.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:34PM (#46933365) Homepage

    I've said it before and I'll say it again:

    No one can predict the future.

    I predict that the sun will rise tomorrow, and also the next day.

    I predict the average temperature where I live will be warmer in August, and it will be cooler in January.

    I predict a full moon on May 14, and a partial solar eclipse on October 23.

    I predict that next year's calendars will (in America) mostly bear the year "2015".

    I predict that in 2015 the Earth's atmosphere will still contain about 78% nitrogen.

    I predict that, this coming June, elephants will be unable to fly under their own power, but sparrows will.

    Of course people can predict the future. We can't predict everything. That doesn't mean we can't predict anything.

  • Re:sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Layzej (1976930) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:43PM (#46933483)

    As a conservative I do not believe in borrowing from future generations. We would all benefit now from running massive deficits but future generations would suffer. Dick Cheney said "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter" but that is clearly not true. At some point the hammer must fall.

    That's what we are doing with the climate. We all enjoy the benefits of cheap fuel while our kids are forced to bear the brunt of climate change and make the transition to new energy sources. It is not a good legacy.

  • Re:sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Layzej (1976930) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:52PM (#46933613)
    I agree with what you say, but at some point we are going to need to make the transition away from fossil fuels. The impacts up front are relatively mild. Even if we start now we won't be able to avoid them, but we may avoid the worst impacts down the road.
  • by pitchpipe (708843) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:52PM (#46933621)

    I'll believe it's a problem when the people who are telling me it's a problem start acting like it's a problem. When the logistics problems go from caviar to videoconferencing bandwidth. When the President decides that golfing locally is a better idea than flying somewhere.

    Your logic sucks ass. This is like saying that because there are rich people of power having feasts, there must be no starving people in the world. It's a non sequitur.

    You're asking me to change my life and not accepting any changes in the way you live yours. Hypocrisy at its finest.

    With a UID that low, I figure you've been around a bit. I'm actually fucking shocked that you haven't figured out yet that politicians are made of hypocrisy.

  • Re:sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @05:17PM (#46934443) Journal

    We could fix this problem easily with barely any significant change to our style of life. why hasn't anyone proposed this mysterious solution if it fixed the problem that "easily", with "barely any significant change in our style of life"?

  • Okay (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cshark (673578) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @05:55PM (#46934795)

    You know, I hate to be the one to point this out, but nearly every one of those things can be attributed to governmental overreach as much as it can be attributed to the environment. Just look at the water shortage statistics. States that were hit the hardest all had laws against rain water collection. Wildfires, likewise, may also be related to the insane laws we have in place. Insurance companies are being regulated to death, and are playing it as safe as they legally can. It has more to do with this insatiable need to regulate the hell out of them than it does with actual conditions. Sea levels go up and down all year long, and no amount of climate change legislation is going to have any power to control that. Of course the government is going to tell you that climate change is a big problem, and that more of your tax money is needed to combat it. They have a profit motive to do so, duh. The people to listen to here are the ones who have no political or financial agenda.

  • complete bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by samantha (68231) * on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @05:56PM (#46934809) Homepage

    It has been widely acknowledged for some time that we are NOT experiencing abnormally extreme weather of any kind. Not from climate change or otherwise.

  • Re:sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KeensMustard (655606) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @06:12PM (#46934945)
    If us dumping billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is causing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to increase (and hence the problem), then, well maybe we should stop doing that. This is exactly like smoking. A man hears that smoking causes lung cancer "Well, there's a problem without a solution" he thinks to himself, while sucking down a Marlboro to calm his nerves. It's not complicated - stop smoking! Admit that you excuses, "I have a moral right to smoke!" "Its a cultural thing" "I'm skeptical of the evidence" "It's too hard to quit" are just things you made up to comfort yourself in your addiction, admit you have a problem, stop smoking, and move on.

    Best estimates are that had we started maybe 10 years ago it would be about 3% of GDP over a defined period to solve the problem. It's a large number and it will take some effort, but so what? Previous generations dealt with problems larger than this. We have the means available with Nuclear power, solar and wind, which will only get cheaper as newer technologies arise through investment.

    The problem is, people don't want to admit there is a problem. The honest truth of the skeptical position: "There's a problem but I'd rather leave it for future generations to solve than get off my arse" sounds a bit amoral, and hence we never hear that spoken out loud. Admit you have a problem and move on.

  • Re: sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @06:33PM (#46935067) Homepage

    Because we're not supposed to mention the 'N' word. But since you asked; it's NUCLEAR fission!

  • Re:sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rgbatduke (1231380) <> on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:03PM (#46935263) Homepage

    Incredibly well stated, sir. Sadly, nobody who reads proclamations of The Government as if they are gospel truth seems aware of the fact that we are currently extending the all time record interval without a category 3 hurricane making landfall in the US, that like it or not SLR is being measured at the terrifying rate of between 2.5 and 3.5 mm/year, within noise of its 140 year rate (and if anything, is currently actually decelerating, although statistically neither any observed "acceleration" nor "deceleration" is meaningful when compared to the historical record). Tornadoes are way down and have been for several years. We just had a record-setting cold year in the US (with daily cold records outnumber warm records maybe 2 to 1) with a record-setting cold winter. The current projection for midsummer sea ice is pretty close to normal. The antarctic has quietly been setting sea ice records for two or three years running without anyone paying the slightest attention (except maybe when boatloads of tourists travelling there to "document sea ice loss" get trapped for weeks in the ice, the boats that come to rescue them get trapped in the ice, and it takes large amounts of money and risk to rescue them).

    But aside from all of that, the assertion that we could deliver all of the world's current energy requirements at all, with almost unlimited investment, without carbon is almost without foundation. Almost because if we invested sufficiently heavily in nuclear power and successfully developed e.g. LFTR (Thorium) as an alternative nuclear power resource, it is barely possible that with enormous investment and the building of hundreds if not thousands of plants and the extensive mining of e.g. Monazite sand we could make it. Assuming, of course, somebody were willing to foot the bill for the third world and the rapidly developing nations like India and China.

    As for solar, I love it to death, and as time passes and technology develops it might eventually be a prime-time player. In the meantime, it is expensive compared to carbon, useless above a certain latitude, and useless at night. We do not have any mature, cost-effective technology for storing energy from solar to deliver at night, and we are in all probability at least decades away from having one. Wind power is even more problematic -- you can't even be guaranteed of having power during the day, and it has to be stored/buffered on a minute by minute basis as the wind is highly intermittent nearly everywhere. Long range delivery of electricity is also still not feasible, so we cannot generate electricity in Arizona and ship it to Maine, not without a truly monumental investment in e.g. ultra-high voltage trans-continental transmission lines or the development of new technologies. In the meantime, both of these power sources are completely inadequate as standalone energy resources without substantial backing from fuel-burning resources -- either carbon or nuclear. Even things like electric cars, touted as being better than gasoline, suffer from serious energy density storage problems and have pitiful ranges (as well as numerous other issues). Biofuels do better -- I can actually believe that we might manage to break even or win a bit on biofuels within the next decade, especially if new genetically engineered organisms and improved technologies there help out. But not even biofuels are prepared AFAIK to take on the full burden of generating not only automotive power but general electrical demand, and there are major questions about how scalable they will end up being even produced on an industrial scale.

    So precisely how could we eliminate the use of fossil fuels, or carbon based fuels, worldwide, without any negative impact on life style? I track the technologies that are out there pretty closely, and am a physicist (and thereby "probably not an idiot") and I cannot see any possible way we could manage it with a HUGE negative impact as the required technologies simply don't exist yet (and some of the one

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