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Reports Show Global Warming Is Already Hurting America; Fighting It Will Heal the Economy

Frances Beinecke

Posted June 18, 2009 in Solving Global Warming

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I have received many briefings from climate scientists over the past 10 years. At first, most were based on modeling and projections, but more recently, they have included an alarming element: empirical evidence that global warming is interfering with America's water supply and agriculture right now.

The report released this week by several federal agencies came to the same conclusion. The study outlines current signs of global warming across the United States.

It also includes the most urgent language about climate change ever to be issued by any White House.

I am relieved that the Obama administration grasps the pressing nature of this crisis. Even among proponents of climate action, many still view global warming as a future threat.

This report makes it clear that when it comes to the impacts of global warming, it's not about maybe or later. It's about definitely and already. We can debate the policy of global warming, but we can no longer debate the scientific reality that global warming is hitting us today.

To find out how climate change is altering your region, click here. And to find out what these changes might do to the American economy--including food production, health-care costs, and transportation disruptions--see this post on the Green, Inc.

Silver Lining: New Reports Find Significant Job Potential

But if you are looking for some good news in the midst of these climate clouds, take a look at two other reports that came out this week.

The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy, prepared by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at UMass and the Center for American Progress, found that the combined impact of the stimulus package at the American Clean Energy and Security Act could serve as a foundation for bringing total clean-energy investments in the United States to $150 billion per year.

This public spending and private investment would produce a net gain of 1.7 million new jobs.

The second report, released by the PERI, NRDC, and Green for All, shows that shifting from traditional fossil fuel to clean energy will improve the standard of living for millions of Americans across all skill and education levels, especially among lower-income families.

Urgency Plus Opportunity Equals Immediate Action

I am glad these three reports came out in the same week. The administration's report reveals the severe threat posed by unchecked global warming. The PERI reports illustrate the many economic benefits that will arise from combating climate change.

Taken together, the message couldn't be clearer: we can solve global warming, and doing so will create American jobs and prosperity.

I am also glad these reports were released when leaders in both the White House and Congress are willing to take the bold action needed.

Within weeks, the House will be debating the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Click here to tell your representative that you support this effort to create jobs, protect the planet, and restore America's leadership.

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Comments

Ben DunhamJun 19 2009 11:48 AM

I went to the report for the Northeast (my region) and found that it began with the startling fact that temperatures had increased by 2 degrees since 1970. But that was an interim low point in the temperature patterns recorded since 1895 (see NCDC's website "Climate at a Glance"). If you go back to 1930, the trend in NE temperatures is only plus .01 degree F per decade, and if you go back 100 years the trend is .06 degee F per decade, or a little over 1/2 of one degree in the last century. (Interestingly, the temperatures for the past 12 months in the NE have actually been a little lower than for the 12-month period ending in May 1910!) This is not to discount the possibility that the Northeast will experience significant warming in the rest of this century, but it does seem that the authors state their case in the most dramatic way possible, when other, more inclusive data would lead to a more balanced assessment.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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