More reports paint foggy picture for climate’s future
By Gene Kemmeter
A number of reports from the U.S. and international agencies in recent months say climate change is having an increasingly larger economic impact on the world and will cause more health issues the longer this nation and the world delay taking action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Thirteen federal agencies released the National Climate Assessment warning if nothing is done, many U.S. cities will resemble hotter southern parts of the country as we know them today because the temperatures will rise and rainfall will likely be less but subject to torrential downpours.
Wisconsin, like the rest of the Upper Midwest, is expected to see larger changes than in the West, and many coastal cities in the nation will experience more flooding, leaving some sections like islands in the ocean.
More homes will need air conditioners in the next 25 years as deadly heat waves will become more frequent, the reports say, and more vegetation will dry out, impacting the local economy in climate-dependent industries like agriculture and outdoor tourism while also creating more fuel for wildfires.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources personnel are already reporting some trees, plants and wildlife are diminishing to numbers that are threatening their population because of warmer temperatures.
The changes will continue to appear gradual to most individuals, but some areas will see sharper swings in their weather. Instead of rainfall spread throughout the year, those areas will experience intense rainfall, then periods of extreme dryness.
The Paris Agreement, agreed to by 195 nations in December 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, was meant to pave the way toward combating climate change. However, President Donald Trump said he would withdrew from the Agreement after he became president, and the U.S. is the second-largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, behind China.
On Saturday, Dec. 15, nearly all those nations agreed to rules to reduce the emissions by tracking them and communicating with others about their progress in the coming years and decades. But the action failed to commit them to taking more ambitious reductions in emissions needed to slow climate change.
Politically, the issue of climate change is a hot potato. Industries such as coal and gas oppose rules about the emissions because they are impacted most by them through the pollution of their products.
After the rules were accepted, one Southeast Asian government said Western Europe and North America have been industrialized far longer than other nations and have profited enormously while contributing to climate change so they ought to pay more for the damage that impacts the poor and vulnerable.
The debate about climate change has picked up steam in recent years, but the deniers continue to retain a lot of control over the issue. Will they finally relinquish that control when conditions around the world get worse and they realize much of their wealth is underwater or dried up?