White House issues Climate Report
4 years late
May , 2008 - Seth Borenstein - The
WASHINGTON- Under a court order and four years
late, the White House Thursday produced what it
called a science-based "one-stop shop" of
specific threats to the United States from man-made
While the report has no new science in it, it pulls
together different U.S. studies and localizes international
reports into one comprehensive document required
by law. The 271-page report is notable because
it is something the Bush administration has fought
in the past.
Andrew Weaver, a Canadian climate scientist who
was not involved in the effort called it "a
litany of bad news in store for the U.S."
And Thomas Lovejoy, a biologist who chaired the
group of scientists who reviewed the report for
the federal government said: "It basically
says the America we've known we can no longer count
on. It's a pretty dramatic picture of all kinds
of change rippling through natural systems across
the country. And all of that has implications for
White House associate science director Sharon Hays,
in a teleconference with reporters, declined to
characterize the findings as bad, but said it is
an issue the administration takes seriously. She
said the report was comprehensive and "communicates
what the scientists are telling us."
- Increased heat deaths and deaths from climate-worsened
smog. In Los Angeles alone yearly heat fatalities
could increase by more than 1,000 by 2080, and
the Midwest and Northeast are most vulnerable
to increased heat deaths.
- Worsening water shortages for agriculture and
urban users. From California to New York, lack
of water will be an issue.
- A need for billions of dollars in more power
plants (one major cause of global warming
gases) to cool a hotter country. The report
cooling will mean Seattle's energy consumption
would increase by 146 percent with the warming
that could come by the end of the century.
- More death and damage from wildfires, hurricanes
and other natural disasters and extreme
weather. In the last three decades, wildfire
in the West has increased by 78 days.
- Increased insect infestations and food-
and waterborne microbes and diseases.
to the forests are causing $1.5 billion
in annual losses.
Finally, climate change is very likely to accentuate
the disparities already evident in the American
health care system," the report said. "Many
of the expected health effects are likely to fall
disproportionately on the poor, the elderly, the
disabled and the uninsured."
The report was required by a 1990 law which says
that every four years the government must produce
a comprehensive science assessment of global
warming. It had not been done since 2000.
Environmental groups got a court order last summer
to force the Bush administration to produce the
document by the end of this month. Hays said
the White House has preferred issuing studies
global warming issues, such as an agricultural
effects report that was released on Tuesday.
It's totally begrudging," said Rick Piltz,
director of Climate Science Watch at the nonprofit
Government Accountability Project, a whistleblowers'
organization. "It's important the government
go on record honestly acknowledging this stuff."