It’s been said that “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Now that scientists have demonstrated the harm of greenhouse gases, it’s time humans did something.
Last week the White House released a study that outlined the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on every region of the United States. The third National Climate Assessment in 14 years made clear that the effects of disruptive climate conditions caused by human behavior aren’t relegated to the future. The problem is now.
The scientists who assembled the report said different regions of the United States are already experiencing different kinds of changes, but nearly all of them are severe. “Summers are longer and hotter,” the report said, “and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours.”
The study said the last century saw the average temperature rise by two degrees Fahrenheit. That doesn’t sound like much, but the two degrees have had a devastating impact. The chief culprit is carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.
The report said the severe changes are not likely to end soon: “There is mounting evidence that harm to the nation will increase substantially in the future unless global emissions of heat-trapping gases are greatly reduced.”
The United States had been the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but China now holds the dubious title. Neither country, however, has acted with urgency to roll back pollution. Although the Obama administration has taken steps through regulation to impose tougher air quality standards on industries, Congress has not been a partner with the White House.
There’s a lot that industrialized countries can and must do about the weather. Let’s hope people can muster the political will to do it, before it’s too late.