In another display of the sea change that has occurred at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the current, Obama administration, a new report was issued yesterday regarding indicators of climate change. The report, “Climate Change Indicators in the United States,” measures 24 separate indicators showing how climate change affects the health and environment of U.S. citizens.
The report represents another step in a series of actions and statements taken on the climate change by the EPA. This EPA has proved to be more active than during previous administrations on this issue. It has labeled CO2 as a gas that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act as a significant greenhouse gas.
New vehicle emissions standards have been established as well as greenhouse gas standards for such vehicles. On April 15, the EPA published the National U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The Climate/Energy Bill currently working its way through the Senate has been heavily influenced by EPA actions and consultations. And now a report is issued regarding the indicators of climate change.
“These indicators show us that climate change is a very real problem with impacts that are already being seen,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “The actions Americans are taking today to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will help us solve this global challenge.”
The following are some of the key climate change indicators.
- Greenhouse gas emissions from human sources are increasing. From 1990 to 2008, emissions have grown by 14 percent in the United States.
- Average temperatures are rising. Seven of the top ten warmest years on record for the continental US have occurred since 1990.
- Tropical cyclone intensity has increased in recent decades. Of the ten most active hurricane seasons, six have happened since the mid 1990’s.
- Sea levels have risen between 1993 and 2008 at twice the rate of the long-term trend.
- Glaciers are melting and their loss of volume has accelerated over the last decade.
- The frequency of heat waves has steadily risen since the 1960s. The percentage of the U.S. population experiencing heat waves has also increased.
Collecting and analyzing environmental indicators can help in understanding the causes of climate change as well as predict what the future will bring. Understanding this is critical in devising strategies to avoid the worst effects of climate change as well as devising strategies for adapting to a different climate. The EPA’s report primarily describes trends within the United States but also includes global trends to provide a basis for comparison.
The report includes some very sobering statistics of how climate change is affecting a range of things like temperature, precipitation, sea levels, and extreme weather. Knowing these trends now can greatly help in the future as we grade ourselves on efforts that we undertake to address climate change.
Article by David A. Gabel appearing courtesy Enviromental News Network.