Last week's report by America's National Climate Assessment reveals the full horror of what's happening to our planet.
The draft version of the US National Climate Assessment, released on Friday, makes remarkable reading – not just for Americans but for all humanity. Put together by a special panel of more than 240 scientists, the federally commissioned report reveals that the US is already reeling under the impact of global warming. Heatwaves, droughts, floods, intense downpours, rising sea levels and melting glaciers are now causing widespread havoc and are having an impact on a wide range of fronts including health services, infrastructure, water supply, agriculture, transport and flood defenses.
Nor is there any doubt about the cause of these rising temperatures. "It is due primarily to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuel," the report states. As carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere soar, temperatures rise and chaos ensues. Air pollution intensifies, wildfires increase, insect-borne diseases spread, confrontations over water rights become more violent and storm surges rise. This is the near future for America and for the rest of the world. Earth is set to become a hotter, drier, unhealthier, more uncomfortable, dangerous and more disaster-prone place in coming years.
Neither President Obama nor his opponent, Mitt Romney, made more than a cursory mention of the issue, despite the fact that it now affects just about every aspect of existence on our planet today. As the assessment makes clear, global warming is not just about polar bears. It is about the lives of people today and about those of future generations.