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. Continue reading Government Accountability Office adds Climate Change to High-Risk Issues
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.
Continue reading “Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis”
Imagine a world where global average temperatures are 4°C (7.2°F) above pre-industrial levels. Summers are extremely hot, plants struggle to survive, ocean levels are rising, and storms are larger than ever before. Turn Down The Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided, a climate report released in November 2012 by the World Bank, estimates that global average temperatures will be 4°C higher within the next century. According to the report, the current average global temperature is already 0.8°C higher than pre-industrial levels.
The World Bank’s press release recapped the report: “Turn Down The Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided summarizes a range of the direct and indirect climatic consequences under the current global path for greenhouse gas emissions.” Some of the key findings include:
With the recent occurrence of Hurricane Sandy, climate change has once again been drawn to our attention. More and more evidence is being discovered linking climate change to extreme weather events. In September 2012, the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Energy and Commerce teamed up to put together this report: Going to Extremes: Climate Change and the Increasing Risk of Weather Disasters, further confirming that as the average global temperature rises, the number and severity of weather events continues to increase.
The report focuses on weather phenomena from 2012, particularly extreme temperatures and drought. “This extreme summer follows a period of unusual weather that has plagued the country for more than a year, including an unusually warm winter and an early spring drought. In fact, August 2011 to July 2012 is the warmest 12-month period that the continental United States has experienced since the beginning of record keeping in 1895.” 90% of record temperatures in 2012 were highs, where in a world unaffected by climate change an even split of record highs and lows would occur. Other weather events are also briefly mentioned in “Going to the Extremes”, including storms, wildfires, and changing water levels due to lack of precipitation. Continue reading “Going to the Extremes” – Climate Change and Weather Events