1. Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. U.S. average temperature has risen more than 2 degrees F over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced
emissions of heat-trapping gases.2. Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow.Climate-related changes are already observed in the United States and its coastal waters. These include increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows. These changes are projected to grow.
3. Widespread climate-related impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase.Climate changes are already affecting water, energy, transportation, agriculture, ecosystems, and health. These impacts are different from region to region and will grow under projected climate change.4. Climate change will stress water resources.Water is an issue in every region, but the nature of the potential impacts varies. Drought, related to reduced precipitation, increased evaporation, and increased water loss from plants, is an important issue in many regions, especially in the West. Floods and water quality problems are likely to be amplified by climate change in most regions. Declines in mountain snowpack are important in the West and Alaska where snowpack provides vital natural water storage.5. Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged.Many crops show positive responses to elevated carbon dioxide and low levels of warming, but higher levels of warming often negatively affect growth and yields. Increased pests, water stress, diseases, and weather extremes will pose adaptation challenges for crop and livestock production.
6. Coastal areas are at increasing risk from sea-level rise and storm surge.
Sea-level rise and storm surge place many U.S. coastal areas at increasing risk of erosion and flooding, especially along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Pacific Islands, and parts of Alaska. Energy and transportation infrastructure and other property in coastal areas are very likely to be adversely affected.7. Risks to human health will increase.Harmful health impacts of climate change are related to increasing heat stress, waterborne diseases, poor air quality, extreme weather events, and diseases transmitted by insects and rodents. Reduced cold stress provides some benefits. Robust public health infrastructure can reduce the potential for negative impacts.8. Climate change will interact with many social and environmental stresses.Climate change will combine with pollution, population growth, overuse of resources, urbanization, and other social, economic, and environmental stresses to create larger impacts than from any of these factors alone.9. Thresholds will be crossed, leading to large changes in climate and ecosystems.There are a variety of thresholds in the climate system and ecosystems. These thresholds determine, for example, the presence of sea ice and permafrost, and the survival of species, from fish to insect pests, with implications for society. With further climate change, the crossing of additional thresholds is expected.10. Future climate change and its impacts depend on choices made today.The amount and rate of future climate change depend primarily on current and future human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases and airborne particles. Responses involve reducing emissions to limit future warming, and adapting to the changes that are unavoidable. For more on that, please see the Actions page on this website. Pushing the Boundaries of Life: Mid-latitudesThe myriad creatures and plants with whom we share this planet are intimately tied to their habitat and zone of temperature, precipitation or ocean current. As mean temperatures rise, and climate is affected, living things have no choice but to react -- to move or adapt. On earlier pages, this Web site documents some of these changes in polar regions, where climate change is very dramaticThe same changes are at play in the mid latitudes, also. It is very clear that huge changes in biodiversity and individual creatures are happening now -- and many are accelerating.In the past few years, scientists have published a large number of studies showing strong correlations between climate change and animal and plant range changes. The latest of these were published in the IPCC reports of 2007, based on peer-reviewed journal studies going back to January 2003 and 2004 in the journal Nature.