Global climate change is real, it's caused by people, and it will have a significant, often unpredictable impact on the United States and the human beings who live here.
Those are the takeaways from the third-ever National Climate Assessment, an 840-page, congressionally mandated tome released by the White House on Tuesday.
The effects of climate change, the report says, are already being seen in longer, hotter summers, shorter winters, and an increase in extreme weather events. This will continue, and it will get worse.
The report warns of dire consequences if steps aren't taken to address the problem: water shortages, disease outbreaks, more powerful hurricanes, and so on. Texas, which is lumped in with the Great Plains, will experience "both increasing heavy rain and snow events and more intense droughts." The 2011 Texas drought gave a taste of what's to come.
The report is the product of hundreds of experts overseen by a 60-member federal advisory committee, and it represents the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists. Not that this matters to Republicans, who were quick to condemn the report as, in the words of House Science Chairman Lamar Smith of San Antonio, "a political document intended to frighten Americans into believing that any abnormal weather we experience is the direct result of human CO2 emissions."
That's about the response you'd expect from a Republican politician circa 2014, National Geographic's optimistic prediction that the NCA will bridge the partisan divide notwithstanding. More troubling is the response from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
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From The Dallas Morning News:
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, run by three Perry appointees, issued a statement late Tuesday blasting climate science findings such as those in the assessment, which says that "human activities are now the dominant agents of change" and that warming trends are clear.
"It is clear that the science of global warming is far from settled," the TCEQ countered. For example, reducing coal use, the agency said, would raise energy prices, especially on the poor.
"This is the true environmental impact of the war on coal," the TCEQ said.
In other words, the chances that Texas will be proactive about planning for the impacts of climate change are close to nil.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.