Market News

 April 28, 2010
EPA says climate change is causing storms, heat waves

 As the Senate debates whether to take up a climate bill before an immigration one, a new Environmental Protection Agency report says climate change is already causing storms and heat waves.

"Climate change is a very real problem with impacts that are already being seen," Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said Tuesday in announcing the report, which looks at 24 indicators. The 80-page report says:

There is indisputable evidence that human activities such as electricity production and transportation are adding to the concentrations of greenhouse gases that are already naturally present in the atmosphere.

Many of the report's findings are not new, but some may be little known or surprising. For example, it says bird species in North America have moved their wintering grounds northward by an average of 35 miles since 1966. Also, despite much snow this past winter, it says the portion of North America covered by snow has "generally decreased" since 1972.

The report's key findings include:
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are increasing. Between 1990 and 2008, there has been about a 14% increase in emissions in the United States.
  • Average temperatures are rising. Seven of the top 10 warmest years on record for the continental United States have occurred since 1990.
  • Tropical cyclone intensity has increased in recent decades. Six of the 10 most active hurricane seasons have occurred since the mid-1990s.
  • Sea levels are rising. From 1993 to 2008, sea level rose twice as fast as the long-term trend.
  • Glaciers are melting. Loss of glacier volume appears to have accelerated over the last decade.
  • The frequency of heat waves has risen steadily since the 1960s. The percentage of the U.S. population impacted by heat waves has also increased.

Here are some of the data charts included in the report: