We’re in trouble

Two reports released in late May say, in short, that when it comes to global warming, we are in trouble.

The U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s mouthful of a report is “Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.3: The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity in the United States.” Some of its depressing highlights include:

1) Climate change is already affecting agriculture, land, water and biodiversity and will continue to do so. 2)There will be faster-growing grain and oilseed crops, but increased crop failures. 3) Fewer livestock will die during the winter, but more will die during hotter summers. Hot summers will also decrease productivity in livestock and dairy animals. 4) More wildfires, insect outbreaks and dying trees. 5) More drought in the West. 6) Less snowpack and earlier spring runoff. 6) Faster growing weeds that are less sensitive to herbicide. 7) More forests where water is available because of higher atmospheric CO2. 8) Exotic grass species invade, causing fires. 9) The growing season has increased by 10-14 days. 10) Covers of snow and ice that provide habitat for polar bears are dramatically decreasing.

In a separate report, the Bush administration, after seven years and on court order, has released a summary of federal and independent research about human-induced global warming. The 271-page report, “Scientific Assessment of the Effects of Global Change,” has plenty to say about rising sea levels and increased pests and weeds. It also looks at global warming’s specific effects on humans: More heat waves mean more illness and death for the elderly, poor and frail. Lyme disease and West Nile Virus are expected to expand its reach. And food- and water-borne diseases are expected to increase, but “major human epidemics” are unlikely.

Both reports are available at Climatescience.gov.