Friday, 19 June 2009

Global climate change impacts in the US

U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), on behalf of the National Science and Technology Council, has produced a report on the impact of climate change on the US.

It's extremely detailed and full of revealing (if not depressing) insights into the variety of impacts that climate change can/will have. I can't pretend to have read it all, but you can - it's here.

I mention it here because it does bring home the wide variety of risks to the businesses and economies that global warming bring. Business continuity because an awful lot more challenging faced with the changes laid out in the main conclusions (which I've edited for brevity):

1. Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.

2. 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 snow melt, 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.

4. Climate change will stress water resources.

5. Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged.

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. Threats to human health will increase.

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.

10. Future climate change and its impacts depend on choices made today.

Of course it's not just the US that's impacted. Corporations and their suppliers - including IT services companies, outsourcers and telcos - around the world are facing a business risk. In the immortal quote from Casablanca; 'maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon (and for the rest of your life)'.

© The Green IT Review

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