No matter what George Will says—extreme weather, drought, heavy rainfall, and increasing temperatures are already fact of life in many parts of the US thanks to human-induced global warming. Changes like these will increase in intensity from here on.
That’s according to Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, a 190-page report two years in the making, issued today, product of the US Global Change Research Program, including NOAA and 12 other US government science agencies, major universities, and research institutes. Some of the findings from the Midwest alone:
- Average temperatures have risen in the Midwest in recent decades, especially in winter
- The growing season is one week longer
- Heavy downpours are twice as frequent as they were a century ago
- The Midwest has experienced two record-breaking floods in the past 15 years
- Average annual temperatures are expected to increase two degrees Fahrenheit over the next few decades—and as much as 7 to 10 degrees by the end of the century, with more warming projected for summer than winter
- Precipitation is expected to increase in the winter and spring
- Summer precipitation will likely decline
- More of the precipitation is likely to occur during heavier events
- As temperatures and humidity increases, heat waves, reduced air quality, insect-borne diseases, pollen production, and growth of fungi are more likely to occur
- Heavy downpours will overload drainage systems and water treatment facilities, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases
- Average water levels in the Great Lakes—reservoirs for 20 percent of the planet’s fresh surface water—could drop as much as two feet this century, affecting beaches, coastal ecosystems, fish populations, dredging, and shipping
Some of the effects of the changing climate are already inevitable and will require human and animal populations to adapt. Other effects can be mitigated by limiting future emissions of C02 and other greenhouse gases… George Will won’t but we have to.