Friday, May 30, 2008

New Report from NSTC: Effects of Global Change on U.S.

The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has released its report, Scientific Assessment of the Effects of Global Change on the U.S., dated May 2008.

As reported by Andrew C. Revkin in the New York Times (May 28, 2008, p. A14), "The rise in concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from human activities is influencing climate patterns and vegetation across the United States and will significantly disrupt water supplies, agriculture, forestry and ecosystems for decades." Among the more sobering conclusions of the report are the predictions of wide-spread water shortages in the western U.S., with dire consequences for populations and agriculture, and the migration of invasive species adversely impacting ecosystems throughout North America.

Healthy biodiversity, essential for ecosystem maintenance, is predicted to suffer as species struggle to adapt to rising temperatures, and conditions that encourage parasitic-induced disease as well as competition for resources and suitable reproductive habitats. From the Executive Summary: "The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded this century by an unprecedented combination of climate change, associated disturbances (e.g., flooding, drought, wildfire, insects, ocean acidification), and other global change drivers (e.g., land use change, pollution)." Read the Summary and Findings.

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