The warming of the Midwest over the past few decades is already affecting public health, the Great Lakes, and farming, and fossil fuels are the main culprit, according to the new draft of the National Climate Assessment Report.
The report was coordinated by 13 federal government agencies under the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and was written by an advisory committee consisting of 60 scientists and other experts. The last National Climate Assessment Report was released in 2009.
“Global climate is changing, and this is apparent across the U.S. in a wide range of observations,” the report states. “The climate change of the past 50 years is due primarily to human activities, predominately the burning of fossil fuels.”
Some highlights from the Midwest section of the report include:
- Per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the region are more than 20 percent higher than the national average.
- The air temperature of the Midwest increased by more than 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1900, with much of the acceleration witnessed between 1980 and 2010.
- Increased heat wave intensity and frequency increases public health risks because of degraded air and water quality.
- Climate change will worsen risks to the Great Lakes, such as invasive species.
- The region’s agriculture sector will face longer growing seasons for some crops in the short term, but that will be offset by extreme weather events such as heat waves, drought and floods.
The report highlighted last year’s decimation of Michigan’s $60-million tart cherry crop because of extreme heat in March, followed by freezes.
“With 2012 being the hottest year on record and this just-released National Climate Assessment revealing the wide-ranging impacts of climate change and associated extreme weather in the Midwest, the issue begs for leadership immediately,” said Clean Water Action Michigan Director Nic Clark. “President Obama called climate action an ‘obligation’ and we are calling on our congressional leaders to move forward to address this critical issue.”
“By setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, President Obama can take a historic step toward tackling global warming and addressing the dangerous threats outlined in this draft report,” said Virginia Shannon, state associate for Environment Michigan. “We urge the Obama Administration to finalize its proposed carbon pollution limits for new power plants, and move forward quickly to set limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants as well.”
Obama could take important steps as early as Monday, when he is sworn into office for a second term.
National Wildlife Federation, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, Environment Michigan, and Moms Clean Air Force joined together in also calling for Obama to appoint a climate champion as the new administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“This scientific report should be the catalyst for restoring America’s leadership role in addressing global climate change,” said Wibke Heymach, Michigan state field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. “We can build on the progress achieved through the EPA’s lifesaving clean air standards for new power plants by developing pollution limitations for existing dirty power plants, which are the largest producer of dangerous carbon pollution.”
The full report is open for comments through mid-April and is available at http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/.