Climate Changed: National Climate Assessment Highlights Impacts Already in Progress

In early May 2014, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the Third National Climate Assessment, finding that climate change is not only a real, clear and serious problem, but also one that is already active affecting our lives and our economy in America.

The report, which counts Planet Forward advisory board members David Hales and James L. Buizer among its authors, concludes that climate change is definitely a human-made problem, one with consequences that we’ve been feeling for some time.

Planet Forward has been covering climate change since our beginnings, and some of the report’s key findings have been covered by our student explorers and videographers over the past few years. Check out some key highlights from the report below along with videos from our staff and student volunteers that show you how the report is already playing out in the real world and which ideas might be ready to help.

According to the report, climate change will have a huge impact on agriculture, a major problem in the face of our rising population and the increased demand for food it brings. This was a key takeaway from the 2013 Feeding the Planet Summit, where the USDA provided a detailed look at the problem and some innovative entrepreneurs brought their solutions forward.

Human health will be a key concern according to the report; in addition to a rise in disease, a decline in nutritional values due to changing crop nutrients could make it even harder to ensure proper nutrition during key periods like the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. Learn about the challenges of the first 1,000 days and what Guatemala in particular is doing about it with the Planet Forward Explorers.

Transportation will not only be affected but is a key contributor to climate change, according to the report. Check out technologies that might make electric vehicles more viable and get trucks off fossil fuels in our TV segments.

Our energy supply and increasing energy use are also both at risk and at fault. Take a look at some alternative options including the water under your feet, safer nuclear stations and the unexpected source you’re throwing away in our TV segments, as well as one way to help clean up the power we already have.

Climate Cycles
The report says that key cycles that define the interaction between climate and all life on the planet are being altered by climate change – check out our infographics to get a handle on how the carbon cycle works and where our biodiversity stands.

Sea Level
The sea levels around the US coast will rise, according to the report – take a look at our infographic on how that rise will affect one state in particular as well one student’s personal takes on how it will affect his home.

Extreme Weather
The report found an increase in extreme weather that will continue to accelerate; our student video teams have explored the human costs and financial impacts of these changes through dazzling use of statistics.

Urban areas will be particularly vulnerable due to their reliance on infrastructure and proximity to flooding. Check out our student submissions to see how cities including the nation’s capitol, San Francisco and New Orleans  as well as nations like Thailand and Vietnam are attempting to cope.

To slow the impacts of climate change, the report notes that mitigation is a key concern. In practical terms, that means more focus on renewable energy sources, as well as policy support for alternative energy and scaling-up of existing technologies. See how DC in particular is supporting renewables through tax policy and how the community has flocked to the idea.

Finally, to move forward the report says we have to adapt. Planet Forward has always been about great ideas to move the planet forward – take a look at our adaptation section and our television segments for great ideas that might be able to help.

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.