Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hitting Home

U.N. report spells out U.S. warming impacts

Chicago and Los Angeles will likely face increasing heat waves. Severe storm surges could hit New York and Boston. And cities that rely on melting snow for water may run into serious shortages.

"Canada and the United States are, despite being strong economies with the financial power to cope, facing many of the same impacts that are projected for the rest of the world," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, which co-founded the panel.

"Heavily-utilized water systems of the western U.S. and Canada, such as the Columbia River, that rely on capturing snowmelt runoff, will be especially vulnerable," the report said.
A temperature warming of a few degrees by the 2040s is likely to sharply reduce summer flows, at a time of rising demand, it said.

By then, the panel estimated that Portland, Ore., will require over 26 million additional cubic meters of water as a result of climate change and population growth, but the Columbia River's summer supply will have dropped by an estimated 5 million cubic meters.
Meanwhile, it said, just over 40 percent of the water supply to Southern California is likely to be vulnerable by the 2020s due to losses of the Sierra Nevada and Colorado River basin snow packs.

More potential impacts are reported.

The poorest in the world will be hurt most, but we will all suffer.

Unless we ACT.

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