The National Climate Assessment released a few weeks ago puts it bluntly.
“Evidence for climate change abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. Scientists and engineers from around the world have meticulously collected this evidence, using satellites and networks of weather balloons, thermometers, buoys, and other observing systems. Evidence of climate change is also visible in the observed and measured changes in location and behavior of species and functioning of ecosystems. Taken together, this evidence tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming, and over the last half century, this warming has been driven primarily by human activity.”
The scientific debate over whether climate change is disrupting the natural systems that support life on Earth is over. But two questions remain to be answered by human society: How catastrophic will the effects of this disruption be if we do nothing? And what can be done to avert the worst impacts?
|Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell (second from left) learns about the work going on at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. Photo by Doreen VanRyswyk/USFWS.|
Fortunately, we still have time to act to help wildlife and natural systems cope with a rapidly changing climate – and to protect the web of life that sustains the Earth’s human population.