Further Scientific Evidence of the Severity of Climate Change

Today marks the release of the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA), a significant report that underscores the potential gravity of climate change to our nation’s well-being. This extensively peer-reviewed report is the product of years of work and it gives us the most comprehensive analysis of climate change in the United States that we have to date.

Salmon and other key fish species are threatened by changes in temperature and precipitation.
The assessment re-enforces what we already know: that human-induced climate change is happening, and it is drastically changing wildlife habitat and communities across the country. From sea level rise in Florida, to powerful and prolonged drought in California, there is nowhere in the U.S. that isn’t feeling the pressure of climate change. As highlighted in the report, the average temperature in the U.S. has increased by about 1.5˚F since 1895, and more than 80% of that warming has occurred since 1980. These warmer temperatures are affecting some of our most iconic species. In the Northwest Atlantic, 24 out of 36 commercially exploited fish stocks showed significant range shifts with the warmer waters and across the country, warmer and drier conditions during the growing season and disrupting critical plant-pollinator relationships such as the monarch butterfly and the milkweed plant.

Swamp milkweed and monarch butterfly by Victor Quintanilla
Monarch butterflies are one of the pollinator species impacted by climate change. Photo by Victor Quintanilla.
The most striking take away from the National Climate Assessment is how many of these changes we are already experiencing. No longer is the science just about predicting what will happen decades down the road; we have powerful examples of what is already happening and how much more serious the impacts of climate change will get without meaningful action to reduce the threat. We are seeing temperatures rise faster, wildfires blaze stronger, and ocean acidification increase quicker. The scientific community is concerned and, as someone whose future is largely ahead of me, I share their concern and alarm.

How we need to respond

Importantly, the NCA also provides us with a gameplan to figure out how to respond to climate change in our daily lives. We will have to deal with these changes by acting to cut carbon pollution, changing our agriculture practices, and learning how to help wildlife and communities adapt. The changes we are seeing today are a warning and a glimpse into the future if we do not act now on climate. Moving forward, we need to:

  1. Do everything we can now to prevent these changes from overwhelming us in the future. One way to do this is by advocating for sensible and responsible limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the United States.
  2. Take these changes into account in our everyday lives and adapting to the changing world around us. Climate resiliency projects and climate smart adaptation are two practical solutions that will help protect communities and wildlife habitat.

Take ActionThe National Climate Assessment is our call to do what we can now to cut carbon pollution and limit the impacts of climate change. Speak up now and tell the EPA that you support strong regulation on carbon emissions from power plants.