An Alarm in the Offing on Climate Change

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Justin Gillis in the New York Times:

The natural conservatism of science has often led climatologists to be cautious in their pronouncements about global warming. More than once they have drawn criticism for burying their fundamental message – that society is running some huge risks — in caveats and cavils.

To judge from the draft of a new report issued by a federal advisory committee, that hesitation may soon fall by the wayside. The draft, just introduced for public comment before it becomes final, is the latest iteration of a major series of reports requested by Congress on the effects of climate change in the United States.

I caution that it is a draft, so we don’t know what final language will make it into the report. I am always hesitant to give too much credence to drafts that could change substantially, but in its current form, the document minces no words.

“Climate change is already affecting the American people,” declares the opening paragraph of the report, issued under the auspices of the Global Change Research Program, which coordinates federally sponsored climate research. “Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts.

“Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and Arctic sea ice are melting. These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity.”

More here.

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