07 May 2009

Congressional Budget Office: Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States

Here's a link to a summary.
As you might expect, the emphasis is mine
Today CBO released a paper presenting an overview of the current understanding of the impacts of climate change in the United States. CBO cannot independently evaluate the relevant scientific research, so our paper draws from numerous published sources to summarize the current state of climate science and provides a conceptual framework for addressing climate change as an economic concern. The paper was reviewed by several knowledgeable external reviewers and, as with all CBO analysis, makes no recommendations.

The paper discusses potential impacts on the physical environment (temperature, precipitation, severe storms, ocean currents, climate oscillations. sea level, and ocean acidification); biological systems(ecosystems and biological diversity, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries); and the economy and human health (water supply, infrastructure, human health, and economic growth).

The paper emphasizes the wide range of uncertainty about the magnitude and timing of impacts and the implications of that uncertainty for the formulation of effective policy responses. Uncertainty arises from several sources, including limitations in current data, imperfect understanding of physical processes, and the inherent unpredictability of economic activity, technological innovation, and many aspects of the interacting components (land, air, water and ice, and life) that make up the Earth’s climate system. This does not imply that nothing is known about future developments, but rather that projections of future changes in climate and of the resulting impacts should be considered in terms of ranges or probability distributions. For example, some recent research suggests that the median increase in average global temperature during the 21st century will be in the vicinity of 9° Fahrenheit if no actions are taken to reduce the growth of greenhouse-gas emissions. However, warming could be much less or much greater than that median level, depending on the growth of emissions and the response of the climate system to those emissions.

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