Yesterday the federal government of the United States released the most shocking and stark assessment of our lives, forecasting severe problems ahead in coming decades. The report is compiled by several different government agencies. Late Wednesday on the eve before Thanksgiving the Trump administration, apparently in an effort to minimize the shock to the American people, moved the scheduled release date of the report from December until late in the day on Black Friday. Now we understand why.
The findings and forecasts included in yesterday’s Fourth National Climate Assessment report are more stark and shocking than anything we’ve read so far. This blog post is a collection of excerpts from the report that most strongly affect us at the bay.
Findings most directly affecting us at the bay
“The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid”
“Global annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8°F (1.0°C) over the last 115 years (1901–2016). This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization.”
“it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century“
“In addition to warming, many other aspects of global climate are changing, primarily in response to human activities.”
“Global average sea levels are expected to continue to rise—by at least several inches in the next 15 years and by 1–4 feet by 2100. A rise of as much as 8 feet by 2100 cannot be ruled out1. Sea level rise will be higher than the global average on the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States.”
“Heavy rainfall is increasing in intensity and frequency across the United States and globally and is expected to continue to increase. The largest observed changes in the United States have occurred in the Northeast.”
“over the next few decades (2021–2050), annual average temperatures are expected to rise by about 2.5°F for the United States”
“Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.”
“While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.”
“Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.”
“Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.
“Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaptation measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of this century, with impacts affecting other regions and sectors. Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values2.”
“Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways”
Baysave immediate response
Since its founding in 2010, Baysave has adopted and worked with earlier forecasts from government and academia that climate change is the world’s #1 greatest challenge. This issue has been at the core of our mission. But this new report issued by the the federal government is far more stark than we have realized and planned for in our strategic and operational guidelines to date. We can immediately conclude:
- This report sets a new legal standard of care for management of public and private institutions. Those who state that they don’t ‘believe’ in human-caused climate change and subscribe to official government mitigation strategy expose themselves and their organizations to civil and perhaps criminal liability.
- Our future is more bleak than we realized, and shocking disruptive change will come sooner than we realized.
- Our own current climate change mitigation and response plans are inadequate. Likewise, the larger communities plans, like the Cumberland County Delaware Bayshore Recovery Plan, are also inadequate.
- The Trump administration’s handling of the release of this major news indicates that that there will be political wrangling ahead that will increase our strife and damage. We do not expect direct logical response by government.
- The government officials who compiled this report have changed the path of this nation’s government and maybe the future of the world.
Baysave’s only logical response is to re-assess our business plans and strategy in light of this shocking new information.
1 This is the first admission by government that past forecasts have substantially under-estimated the impact of climate change.
2 This is a stark warning that the revenue base of east coast communities – real estate taxes – will be destroyed.