The United States made it official this week in a report that linked global warming primarily to human activity. For every American, a heating planet is reason for concern. Here on the South Fork, where a rising sea level linked to the climate heating up is a real and present danger, concern should be heightened.
Here are a few of the National Climate Assessment findings: Climate change is already being felt in the United States, including in more-extreme weather. “Multiple lines of evidence” have showed that mankind is the main cause of warming. The 10-year period just ended was the hottest on record, and 2012 was the warmest year in the U.S. ever. Temperatures are projected to increase by a further 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit in the coming decades. Heat-related droughts and wildfires are becoming more common. The rate of global sea level rise is accelerating. Marine waters are becoming acidic. Negative effects on wildlife are widespread, but are only beginning to be understood. And agricultural productivity and human health are at risk. The Northeast, the report says, is already being affected by heat waves, extreme precipitation, and coastal flooding and erosion.
For Long Island communities, particularly those along the shoreline, the effects are already becoming clear — and alarming. Residents and business owners can see the narrowing of beaches here as a direct result of global warming. The choices Americans make are affecting the here and now, as well as the future. The time to act is already upon us.