Wilderness Society Praises Long-Overdue Release of National Climate Assessment

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Christopher Lancette Communications Director
202 429 2692 chris_lancette@tws.org

Wilderness Society Praises Long-Overdue Release of National Climate Assessment

WASHINGTON - After five years of slow-walk, scuttle,
and delay by the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration is letting
global warming science speak for itself with the release today of Global
Climate Change Impacts in the United States
, a synthesis of
years of peer-reviewed climate research conducted by 13 federal agencies
beginning more than a decade ago.  

“This long-overdue national assessment of climate science
provides definitive evidence that global warming is real, it is caused by human
activity, and it has the potential to wreak havoc on every region of the
country and every sector of U.S. society,” said William H. Meadows, President
of The Wilderness Society. “The report released today raises a
science-based alarm that we ignore at our peril. We need to reduce global
warming pollution quickly and dramatically, or the costs of inaction will be
devastating.”

The report, a product of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, is
the first comprehensive nationwide overview since 2001 of U.S. vulnerability to
climate change. It predicts far-reaching  and costly impacts—unless
action is taken to quickly and significantly cut global warming pollution.
These impacts include extreme heat waves, floods, devastating hurricanes, the
spread of disease, water shortages, threats to the nation’s
transportation infrastructure and food production, and disruptions to U.S.
energy supply. Climate change, if unaddressed, will cause a catastrophic
economic burden.

Among the many sectors affected by these impacts are:

· The $7.6 billion winter recreation industry in
northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine . With shorter winters and
more precipitation falling as rain than snow, the length of the winter snow
season would be cut in half.

· The coastal energy infrastructure of the Southeast.
Refineries, processing facilities, and coastal ports in the Southeast are all
considered particularly vulnerable to disruption dut to sea-level rise and the
high winds and storm surge associated with hurricanes and other tropical
storms.

· The wine and food growing industries of California.
Changes in climate are likely to compromise crops like almonds, apricots, olives
and walnuts that require a minimum number of cool days to set fruit for the
following year.

· The agriculture and ranching industries of the Great
Plains. Already plagued by unsustainable water use and greater frequency of
extreme heat, farmers in this region face reduced crop yields—or
failure—due to extreme heat and increasing frequency of drought.

· The fisheries of Alaska. The state’s fishing
industry provides most of the nation’s salmon, crab, halibut and herring.
Alaska Native communities rely on harvests of fish, walruses, seals, whales,
and other marine species. All are threatened because melting sea ice is
changing the timing and extent of blooms of plankton, a nutrient in the marine
food web on which all marine life depends.

“While the impacts predicted by this report are indeed dire, the
ending of the global warming story is ours to write,” Meadows noted.
“As the science in this report makes clear, future climate change and its
impacts depend on the the choices we make today.”

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Since 1935, The Wilderness Society has led the conservation movement in wilderness protection, writing and passing the landmark Wilderness Act and winning lasting protection for 107 million acres of Wilderness, including 56 million acres of spectacular lands in Alaska, eight million acres of fragile desert lands in California and millions more throughout the nation.

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