Monday, June 14, 2010

The Future Strikes

Our Federal Government has established a Global Change Research Program that seeks to integrate research and solutions to climate change in this country. It looks at different sectors and examines the issues that require farsighted solutions. It's a science-based approach that identifies impacts of climate change and seeks solutions based upon sustainable approaches. No hysteria or things-to-do. But definitely strikes the mark with respect to stating the critical, immediate problem of things that will happen, and are happening, that have to be dealt with.

The assessments are based upon reports from the IPCC, a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). IPCC assesses the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change. Because of its intergovernmental nature, the IPCC is able to provide scientific technical and socio-economic information in a policy-relevant but policy neutral way to decision makers. When governments accept the IPCC reports and approve their Summary for Policymakers, they acknowledge the legitimacy of their scientific content.

Our southwest region is examined, with key issues being water shortage, increasing temperatures, wildfires and invasive species due to the rapid warming trends that we're seeing. The brief but succinct summary is as follows:

With more intense, longer-lasting heat waves projected to occur over this century, demands for air conditioning are expected to deplete electricity supplies, increasing risks of brownouts and blackouts. Much of the region’s agriculture will experience detrimental impacts in a warmer future, particularly specialty crops in California such as apricots, almonds, artichokes, figs, kiwis, olives, and walnuts. These and other such crops require a minimum number of hours below a chilling temperature threshold in the winter to set fruit for the following year.

What's important is that these scenarios and very predictable trends are being publicly disseminated as a basis for our local public policies, which now must shift to adapt to the much warmer and drier environment we will live in very shortly. The reality is that we truly can't pollute and build any more, we've gone beyond the former environmental norms and must change how we live.

To that end, a National Climate Adaptation Summit was held in Washington, D.C. at the end of May. A report will be issued at a later date.