After spending several years gathering and organizing data, the White House has released the National Climate Assessment, which was completed by more than 300 scientific experts, led by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee. Prior to release, the assessment was thoroughly reviewed by the public, additional experts, federal agencies, as well as a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.
The report is the third of its kind, as Congress requires one to be published every four years. The findings of the report are meant to not only inform the public, but help to form public policy and private sector decisions.
While climate change is far from being a new topic, the extensive review provides a centralized source on how America, and the world as a whole, is changing. The overview states, “Certain types of extreme weather events with links to climate change have become more frequent and/or intense, including prolonged periods of heat, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts. In addition, warming is causing sea level to rise and glaciers and Arctic sea ice to melt, and oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb carbon dioxide. These and other aspects of climate change are disrupting people’s lives and damaging some sectors of our economy.”
According to the Los Angeles Times’ reporting about a March Gallup Poll, the majority of Americans believe climate change is happening or will happen in their lifetimes. However, only 3 percent of people see it as a serious threat to their way of life.
The biggest threat the report notes is people. “Climate change is here and now, and not in some distant time or place,” said Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University climate scientist and one of the authors of the report, according to USA Today. “The choices we’re making today will have a significant impact on our future.”
But even those who don’t notice these changes, the assessment warns that something must be done. “There is mounting evidence that harm to the nation will increase substantially in the future unless global emissions of heat-trapping gases are greatly reduced,” the report states.