Following the release of the federal National Climate Assessment last week, experts in Washington state say that although the window for countering the negative impacts of climate change is narrowing, there’s still time.
The trend is clear: Earth is warming because of our longstanding reliance on fossil fuels.
As our cars, buildings, refineries, large industries and power plants burn fossil fuels, emitting harmful and noxious greenhouse gasses, the planet will continue to warm, according to the federal government’s latest National Climate Assessment, published last week. Like the rest of the world, the Northwest is at risk. Washington, Oregon and Idaho are home to some 14 million people and 43 Native American tribes. The region is already experiencing climate change and more will come in the decades ahead, the state’s climatologist and one of the report’s authors told The Seattle Times.
States like Washington are scrambling to cut greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and painlessly as possible, with mixed degrees of success and local opposition. Others resist the change or even lay the groundwork for the continued reliance on the fossil fuels that have brought us to this point.
The faster the U.S. and the rest of the world cuts emissions, the quicker the risks diminish, the report says. The immediate benefit — and the benefit to future generations — will “far outweigh” the costs those changes would impose.
We still have time to shape our future, for better or for worse.
“Although the window is narrowing, it’s still open,” said Deepti Singh, a climate scientist with Washington State University and one of the assessment’s many authors.