1. Increases in temperature are expected to accelerate throughout the next century at a rate faster than anything that has occurred over the last 1,000 years, according to a study released this month by the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. How concerned should we be about this finding, and the rate of acceleration of climate change?
We should be very concerned, but not defeatist. The Earth is warming at an increasing pace and with it comes problems that we need to deal with. The earlier and stronger we react to the challenge, the less detrimental the results of global warming will likely be.
The worry is that we as a nation are doing relatively little to change our habits and the effects of global warming, such as sea level and temperature rise, tend to be delayed. As a nation as we begin to perceive the negative consequences of global warming, we will already have committed ourselves to even greater negative effects.
An important point to remember is that what occurs locally may not be what others are experiencing. For example Boston, Massachusetts received over 110 inches of snow this winter. In contrast, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California is ~6 percent of a normal year. This low water availability triggered Governor Jerry Brown to issue an executive order in April that requires a 25 percent reduction in urban water use. These situations have not been directly linked to global warming, however they remind us that people not too far away may be experiencing very different weather conditions than we are.