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Climate Change

Climate change is a reality and is linked to the accumulation of greenhouse gases. There have been five groups of observed changes including:

  • 1. An increase in the amount of emissions of greenhouse gases in the United States, globally, and in the atmosphere
  • 2. An increase in the average temperatures in the United States and globally, with an increase in the frequency of heat waves in the United States, an increase in drought in portions of the country, an increase in precipitation in the United States and worldwide, an increase in heavy precipitation in the United States, and an increase in the intensity of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico
  • 3. A decrease in the amount of Arctic sea ice, glaciers in the United States and globally, lake ice, snow cover in North America, and snow pack in the Western United States and Canada
  • 4. Changes in society and ecosystems because of substantial numbers of heat-related deaths, the lengthening of the growing season, a shifting of the plant hardiness zones northward, a change in the dates of leaf growth and plants blooming, and a shift in the migration habits of birds. (See endnote 48)
  • 5. An increase in the ocean heat, sea surface temperature, sea levels, and ocean acidity

In May 2010, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences determined that climate change is occurring and it is caused largely by human activities and can affect people as well as various ecosystems. Carbon pollution which causes climate change may lead to more intense hurricanes, other storms, heavier and more frequent flooding, more drought, and more wildfires. It increases the acid level of the oceans, causes the sea levels to increase, increases storm surges, and is harmful to agriculture and forests. Climate change especially affects children, the poor, and the elderly. (See endnote 41.)

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