The government accountability office has long since kept track of issues that it considers high-risk to the United States. In February 2013, two new high-risk issues were added to the list, including Limiting the Federal Government’s Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks and Mitigating Gaps in Weather Satellite Data.
These high-risk issues are placed on the list for a variety of both qualitative and quantitative reasons. Some of the qualitative issues include the risk of public health and safety, national security, economic growth, and/or citizens’ rights. Quantitatively, a minimum of $1 billion must be at risk in areas such as the value of major assets being impaired, revenue sources not being realized, or major agency assets being lost, stolen, damaged, wasted, or underutilized. Finally, measures must be taken of the current and future actions that will be performed in order to effectively reduce the risk. Read more
We all know that climate change has seriously impacted humans as a species, so it is no surprise that plants and wildlife are struggling with the changes as well. In January 2013, The National Wildlife Federation released the report, Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis, demonstrating how wildlife and their habitats are being affected in various regions across the United States.
A few of the key climate change related impacts seen on wildlife include shifting ecosystems, biological changes, and struggles to adapt to extreme weather events. Since average temperatures have increased overall, a noticeable shift in plant species and wildlife habitat in North America has occurred. Many species are being seen to relocate either to further north latitudes or towards higher elevations. According to the report, “fourteen species of small mammals in the Sierra Nevada region extended their ranges up in elevation by about 1,640 feet in the last century”. Also, the seasonal changes and habitat shifts are affecting species’ internal biological clocks, causing changes in migration, hibernation, and breeding. For instance, birds are migrating later than previously seen and bears are coming out of hibernation earlier in the spring. Another issue discussed in the report is the amount of stress that extreme weather events put on various species. In the western United States, droughts and low-stream flow are making it difficult for fish to breed, while off the east coast, tropical storms have decimated coastal habitats.
International Energy Agency’s 2012 WORLD ENERGY OUTLOOK reports on key elements of the world-wide energy equation, ending with a hard look at the future of the world’s water resources. Analysis of global energy trajectories projects more than doubling the use of water by 2035. “(This amount is) equal to the residential water use of every person in the United States over three years, or 90 days’ discharge of the Mississippi River.”
Already-constrained global water resources will be impacted by expected increases in use of more water-intensive energy production methods for gas, oil, coal and biofuels. These effects could be compounded by the fact that much of the water used in these methods will not returned to its source.
Future planning for growth in the key areas of energy production, population and economic development will be essential to managing vulnerable global water resources. Implementation of fuel-free, low-water use clean, renewable energy technologies could be a bright part of the future’s picture.