Climate Change in the US Report: Part 1 Tips for a Cooler Society

The Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States report, released by the United States Global Change Research Program, is a down-to-earth vision of what our earth may look like in the very near future . The full report is long (196 pages) though written in surprisingly readable terms. It and the Global Change website drive home the reality--and immediacy--of climate change. The website has climate change information divided by geographical area, with data about salmon populations for residents of the Northwest and lobster fishing for the Northeast.

Since the report is so clearly written, the only real barrier to reading it is the subject matter itself. This is the first in a series of posts about the Climate Change Impacts report, summarizing some of the points in each section for those that find the whole report overwhelming.

Part I: Climate Change and Society

  • "Vulnerability is greater for those who have few resources and few choices." This principle was illustrated most painfully during Katrina, when those who already had the least lost the most.

  • "City residents and city infrastructure have unique vulnerabilities to climate change."

    Cities plan do plan for disasters, but currently the chance of disaster is predicted as happening about once a century. Climate change and associated flooding will assure much more frequent disasters. Drought combined with heat waves mean air conditioners (which run on cool water) will be running at higher levels with decreased efficiency. Blackouts related to air conditioning use have already occurred during summer months.

  • "Climate change affects communities through changes in climate-sensitive resources that occur both locally and at great distances."

    Climate change is affecting maple syrup and cranberry production, threatening the communities that rely upon these products.

  • "Opportunities for some activities and locations and expanded opportunities for others."

    Areas that rely upon skiing and other winter-related sources of tourism stand to lose an important source of income, whereas cold areas that become more temperate might become more popular tourism spots.

  • Insurance is one of the industries particularly vulnerable to increasing extreme weather events such as severe storms, but it can also help society manage the risks."

    Insurance, that human innovation in response to uncertainty, will mirror changes in the larger economy as disasters become more certain. Insurance is of public concern because the government is increasingly the "insurer of last resort."

  • "The United States is connected to a world that is unevenly vulnerable to climate change and thus will be affected by impacts in other parts of the world."

    Climate change will probably cause a reshuffling of the world's population. Trade relationships will also be altered as different regions' production capacity changes.

It's only natural to imagine the known in terms of the unknown:  think of not just one Katrina, but a roving Katrina that can manifest in any area, showing the stark demarcation between those with the means to find other alternatives, and those without.

  • Whew! Okay, now what can we do about it?

    Look for more summaries from the climate change report, and tips on what you can do to reduce your impact, especially by keeping cool efficiently, in the coming weeks.

Tags: Air conditioning, Climate change, Cool, Driving, Environment, Heat

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