Several top U.S. government climate change scientists released a new report
on Tuesday warning that the effects of global warming will become more severe
unless the Obama administration takes action quickly.
scientists have talked about the threat of rising sea levels on remote tropical
islands and melting ice in the polar regions. But a new report by the U.S.
Global Climate Research Program makes the threat of global warming personal.
"Climate change is happening now and it's happening in our own
backyards, and it affects the kinds of things people care about," said Jane
Jane Lubchenco is the head of the U.S. National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration. She says the report presents scientific evidence
that will inform policy making.
The report, compiled by more than 30
scientists at 13 U.S. government agencies, describes climate-related changes
that are happening in the United States.
Tom Karl, was a principal author
of the report.
"U.S. average temperature has risen by 1.5 degrees
Fahrenheit over the past 50 years," said Tom Karl. "We've had more rain coming
in heavy downpours that can lead to flooding. Less winter precipitation is
falling as snow, more as rain."
The report, commissioned by the White
House, uses climate models to project what will happen if action is not taken to
reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that most scientists say cause global
It predicts increasingly deadly heat waves, and higher incidents
of asthma and diseases transmitted through the water and by insects and
Jerry Melillo, an author and director of the Ecosystems Center
at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, says U.S. coastlines are
under particular threat of rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes.
points specifically to the U.S. coast along the Gulf of Mexico, where seven of
the nation's 10 biggest seaports are located and two-thirds of all U.S. oil
imports are transported.
"Vital energy and transportation infrastructure
will be at risk with expected sea level rise and associated storm surge," said
The report says the most severe affects of climate change
can be avoided if action is taken swiftly to reduce heat-trapping gasses.
Not everyone is convinced. William Gray, a professor emeritus at
Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science, is one of the
He says some scientists are placing too much emphasis on the
role of greenhouse gases in climate change.
"There's no way they can warm
the way the models say they do warm," said William Gray.
Gray says the
rising temperatures are caused by natural fluctuations in the oceans' salinity
"I think this whole thing in 10, 15, 20 years as we look back on
this, and as we learn more, we'll see that this was a great exaggeration," he
Scientists are not the only people debating climate change. The
U.S. Congress is considering legislation on how to tackle the problem. And
international negotiators from 182 nations are working on a roadmap to fight
Negotiators have to come up with a plan to replace the
Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions by December, when they present their
proposal at a United Nations conference in Copenhagen.