Dire climate change warning in third comprehensive report commissioned by U.S.

“Harm to the nation will increase substantially in the future unless global emissions of heat-trapping gases are greatly reduced," scientists warn in the new report. 

Yesterday, the Office of the President of the United States released a new report on climate change. The office also announced an information campaign that will be ongoing to inform the U.S. public of the consequences of changing climate patters and conditions in the U.S.

The report is the Third National Climate Assessment. It was four years in the making. It was compiled by some 300 scientists and is 800 pages long. You can read an announcement of the issuing of the report here.

The report was prepared by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. That program was instituted under the Global Change Research Act and has previously reported in 2000 and 2009. Prior to publication, this third report was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.

It states, “Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including through more extreme weather events and wildfire, decreased air quality, and diseases transmitted by insects, food, and water.”

 “Harm to the nation will increase substantially in the future unless global emissions of heat-trapping gases are greatly reduced.”

The report notes that the very energy supply infrastructure of the United States is threatened by more violent weather events. That’s a major problem considering that rising temperatures in the U.S. will place even greater demand on producing energy for cooling of homes, offices and other buildings, and more winter storms will cause life-threatening dangers from the kind of ice storms and snowstorms that struck Toronto, eastern Canada, New England and other regions of North America this past winter.

Most Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S. border, so the implications of this report are just as profound for them as they are for Americans.

The report and the announced information campaign of the White House are bad news for the fossil fuel industry in North America. Such a campaign will focus ever-more attention on the destructive impacts of the extraction, burning and transport of Alberta tar sands, conventional and fracked oil and natural gas, and coal.

The report and the White House response is all a sign that notwithstanding the promotion efforts of the climate wreckers in the fossil fuel industry and their backers in the halls of power in Ottawa and Washington (including President Obama himself), the scientific writing is on the wall. The world has to radically reduce its production of greenhouse gas emissions. It has to get rid of the never ending growth imperative of capitalism that drives the present world economic order. It must move to a planned economy in which social and environmental needs, not private gain, are the driving force. Preservation and enhancement and human society and Earth’s ecology must become the new imperative of society, in place of today’s ‘produce, consume and destroy, and now repeat the cycle’.

“There should be a fierce urgency to tackle this problem (in Canada), but there won’t be,” says John Smol, a researcher on environmental change at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. He told the Toronto Star, “The present government has made it very clear that (climate change) is not an issue they care about.”

Smol reminded his Star interviewer that rising ocean levels are one of the consequences of rising greenhouse gas emissions and a warming planet, and Canada is surrounded by three oceans. “Sea-level rise will impact those who live near the coast and ocean acidification will severely affect food supply,” he said.

This new report echoes findings of reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN-sponsored climate panel.

Smol’s reminder of where the Canadian government stands is underlined by yesterday’s news that  the Alberta government has again barred environmental groups from hearings on a new, proposed tar sands project. It denied standing to the Oilsands Environmental Coalition over a proposed new development by Southern Pacific Resource Corp.

This is the same, restrictive pattern used by the National Energy Board and other federal agencies in which consideration of climate science and broad ecological impacts of fossil fuel projects are not welcomed in the regulatory approval process. In BC, a citizen group as well as the Tsleil Watuth people of Burrard Inlet (Vancouver Harbour) have each launched legal action against the NEB over its restrictive review process of the Kinder Morgan company proposal to build a new Trans Mountain pipeline. The new line would triple Kinder Morgan’s existing pipeline transport by of oil and bitumen from Alberta to Vancouver Harbour.

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