As your advisor on energy policy, I believe it is important to inform you on the current status of global warming and of the energy crisis. I would also like to suggest changes in the current energy policy.
Global warming can no longer be given a blind eye. Long-term observations in the last century or so reveal that the U.S. climate is changing rapidly. According to the National Assessment Synthesis Team's U.S. Global Change Research Program in 2000, the average national temperature has risen by 1*F and precipitation has increased 5-10%. Although these trends have been more apparent in recent years, the projected warming for the 21st century is significantly higher. The increased temperatures are also very likely to be accompanied with "more extreme precipitation and faster evaporation of water". Today we see evidence of global warming via shrinkage of glaciers, thawing of permafrost, earlier melting and later freezing of ice on lakes and river, and shifts in plant and animal systems.
Models only showing temperature fluctuations of the last 150 years or so appear to show that the current increase in temperature is due to natural trends. However, data from the last 1,000 years (from tree rings, corals, ice cores, and historical records) show a
tremendous spike in temperature increase- starting around the time of the Industrial Revolution (alas, the rise of burning fossil fuels).
While all these facts are true, the main evidence linking humans to global warming is in the models. Exponential rise in surface temperatures is not a natural trend, despite models of all climate factors, the only way to produce the rate of warming we are seeing now is through unnatural causes. A rise in anthropogenic CO2 (that is, carbon dioxide produced by human activities) over the years is the only plausible explanation for the high concentration of greenhouse gases today. And although we could stop burning fossil fuels today, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would not decrease for decades because the CO2 molecules linger in the atomosphere.
There is growing evidence supporting global warming and its [potential] negative effects on vulnerable human and natural resource systems. Natural systems are vulnerable to climate change, and some systems may be irreversibly damaged. Change in climate in some natural systems- such as coral reefs, tropical forests, wetlands, polar ecosystems, etc. - will lead to their extinction and, ultimately, loss of biodiversity in the natural world. And this is due to climate change only. Improper land-use and pollution also affect these fragile systems.
According to the U.S. Assessment, alterations in natural systems due to climate change could possibly result in negative consequences for our economy which, in part, depends on our nation's bountiful lands, waters, and native plant and animal communities. One system affected by global warming in the U.S. is the coastal wetlands, including the recently devastated Gulf Coast region. The southeast is home to more than half of the nation's remaining wetlands. Salt water intrusion due to rising sea levels and increases in violent tropical storms, along with human destruction, are major causes in the loss of wetlands. These wetlands not only play a vital role in helping protect coastal cities from storm surges, but also provide habitats and nurseries for many fish species. Therefore agriculture systems (fisheries), which make up a large part of the region's economy, are vulnerable to climate change.
Also to be affected by global warming are the nation's glacial and mountain regions (such as Alaska and Colorado). Reduction in snowpack- which affects the timing and flow of water in these regions- due to climate change could easily lead to water conflicts and shortages. Furthermore, many of the cities' economies in Colorado (and other states in the Rocky Mountain region) depend entirely on the area's snowfall to attract tourists.
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