Extreme weather to increase with global warming

As John McCain campaigns on a pledge of increasing greenhouse gas emissions by launching new offshore oil drilling while at the same time refusing to make caps mandatory on emissions by big polluters, new government data indicates that the effects of global climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, are intensifying.

Severe weather and disastrous storms caused by global climate change will become more frequent and dangerous, says a new report published this week by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research. Drought, heavy rains, excessive heat, and intense hurricanes are among the likely weather events to become more commonplace due to global warming caused by greenhouse gas emission.

ScienceDaily.com reported this week that this new government assessment, which is a synthesis of a wide range of data and findings, is “based on scientific evidence that a warming world will be accompanied by changes in the intensity, duration, frequency, and geographic extent of weather and climate extremes.”

The science news website further quoted the co-authors of the report who discussed its ominous findings. The report examines global warming “across North America and concludes that we are now witnessing and will increasingly experience more extreme weather and climate events,” said Tom Karl, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center.

“We will continue to see some of the biggest impacts of global warming coming from changes in weather and climate extremes,” added Gerry Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

ScienceDaily.com emphasized the report’s reference to the human factor in causing global climate change. “Global warming of the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced increases in heat-trapping gases,” the report pointed out.

The government study detailed some specific climate and weather events that have already had an impact or will have an impact on North America. Many people on the continent have already or will experience hotter days. In addition to heat waves, cooler nights may also become something of the past.

Sea ice will probably continue to decrease in the Arctic Ocean and may even disappear altogether during summer months, leading to the erosion of coastlines in Alaska and Canada.

Rain and snow will likely be less frequent but more intense, causing droughts at times and intense flooding at others. Hurricanes will possibly bring higher winds, higher waves, and more precipitation.

While the report made plain the crucial link between human activity and climate change, it did not deal with social impacts of these changes on North America. The social consequences of coastal erosion, drought, flooding, more intense disastrous storms and heat waves include food and water shortages, increased human and property costs, greater risks of infectious disease and more rapid extinction of indigenous plant and animal species.

The report appears after years of clear censorship by the Bush administration of scientific reports on climate change. For example, as Grist.org recalled this week, how Bush installed people like “American Petroleum Institute attorney Philip Cooney [who] was appointed chief-of-staff of the [White House Council on Environmental Quality]. He would repeatedly edit government reports on climate change in an effort to lessen the certainty of the science.”

Find a summary of the report at .

jwendland @politicalaffairs.net