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Report Says Significant Climate Change Ahead for US

A U.S. government scientific report concludes that future decades will see significant climate change in the United States, caused primarily by human activity. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington.

The report, titled Scientific Assessment of the Effects of Global Change on the United States, concludes that a warming of the earth will have a far-reaching impact on the United States. Not only will winters become milder and summers hotter, climate change will affect rainfall, water supply, hurricane activity, sea levels, agricultural production, energy production, biological diversity, and human health.

The report, written by President Bush's National Science and Technology Council, is being sent to the White House and Congress.

It paints a worrisome picture of more heat waves and wildfires, increased water shortages in regions that depend on mountain snowmelt, greater coastal flooding and erosion, more-intense storms and hurricanes, the disruption and dislocation of ecosystems, and increased risk of crop failures. It also predicts geographic shifts in human settlements, higher heat-related human mortality, and increased risk for some diseases.

The report notes that climate change is a complicated phenomenon, but concludes that there is "a strong human influence on climate." In particular, human activities that generate carbon dioxide, a so-called "greenhouse gas" is seen as a main culprit.

If embraced by President Bush, the report would constitute a shift in thinking by the administration on climate change. For years, President Bush has maintained that while there is strong evidence that climate change is occurring, the causes are not clear and warrant further study before implementing any far-reaching, costly initiatives to combat the phenomenon.

The report does not make any specific policy recommendations for combating climate change, but would seem to suggest that reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses would be beneficial. Even so, the report states that some climate change in the future is inevitable regardless of any steps taken, because a certain amount of warming will occur due to greenhouse gas emissions that have already occurred.