Saturday, May 19, 2007

Climate change and the U.S.

One of the conclusions of the WGII report was that poor nations of the world will suffer more from climate change because they don't have the infrastructure to deal with it. Lately, I've been hearing some smart people (at various meetings I've been to) say something that is quite different: that the U.S. and Europe will barely be affected. That appears to be a misinterpretation of the WGII report. I'm not sure how that has spread but I hope readers of this blog know better. Update: Quotes like this from the WGII panel chair Rajendra K. Pachauri in the NYTimes must be responsible:
“It’s the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit"

Note: thats worst hit, not only hit.

To help set the record straight, here are some articles about how climate change will definitely affect the U.S. and not for the better:

Associated Press (Edith Lederer) article title "Panel Says U.S. Faces Change As Climate Warms"
Chicago and Los Angeles will likely to face increasing heat waves. Severe storm surges could hit New York and Boston. And cities that rely on melting snow for water may run into serious shortages.

This commentary by George Monibot in the Guardian talks about charges of censorship from the warming crowd but also mentions that during the wrangling over the WGII SPM, this sentence was taken out: "North America is expected to experience locally severe economic damage, plus substantial ecosystem, social and cultural disruption from climate change related events". And they don't mean only Mexico and Canada. Always remember that the IPCC process results in a very conservative, in terms of climate prediction, document.

This Associated Press article by Seth Borenstein combines the U.S. climate change and national security (see below) stories:
Roger Pulwarty, one of the federal government's top drought scientists, said states such as Arizona and Colorado, which already fight over the Colorado River basin water, will step up legal skirmishes. They may look to the Great Lakes, but water availability there will shrink, he said.

The occasion for this story was that the general's and admiral's report on climate change was issued the same day as a 67-page report on North American climate change (part of the IPCC WGII full report but I can't find it online).

The San Francisco Chronicle's Jane Kay covered the same report and reported:
Severe heat waves -- characterized by stagnant masses of warm air and consecutive nights with high minimum temperatures -- will intensify in the United States and Canada, according to the data on North America released Monday by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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