With more frequent heat waves, heavy downpours, floods and droughts, Americans are already living with the consequences of global warming, a new federal report says.
These changes felt over the last 50 years are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily caused by human activity like the burning of fossil fuels, according to the 2013 National Climate Assessment released Friday. Authors point out that evidence for a changing climate has "strengthened considerably" since the last version of the report four years ago.
"Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience," the reports authors wrote. "So, too, have coastal planners from Florida to Maine, water managers in the arid Southwest and parts of the Southeast, and Native Americans on tribal lands across the nation."
The average U.S. temperature has increased by about 1.5°F since 1895 and more than 80 percent of that occurred since 1980. The last decade was the nation's hottest on record. Temperatures will continue to rise another 2°F to 4°F in most areas of the country over the next few decades, the report said.
Better and broader national plans for adapting to global warming are needed, the report's authors recommend. The report, a draft, was compiled by more than 240 scientists for a federal advisory committee. It is open for public comment for the next three months.