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Urgent Call for Action: NCA5 Report Highlights Escalating Climate Change Impacts and Need for Rapid Emission Reductions in the U.S.

November 14, 2023

Urgent Call for Action: NCA5 Report Highlights Escalating Climate Change Impacts and Need for Rapid Emission Reductions in the U.S.

A glacier in the dark with one spot of it lit with a ray of light.
Artist: CHRISTIAN MURILLO Title: GLACIERS, LAST CALL (2022, PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT) Artist's statement: The Sulphide Glacier on Mt. Shuksan receives the last ray of light, resembling a glimpse of hope for the glaciers in the North Cascades. As a landscape photographer, I am constantly searching for wilderness areas that provoke the juxtaposing themes of power and fragility, particularly in the context of climate change. I aim to draw my audience in with the beauty of the landscapes and inspire them to contemplate the intrinsic value of wild spaces. We cannot truly protect something we do not love, and we cannot love something that does not move us.

The Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) report was released today and presents a stark reality of human-caused climate change's escalating impact across the United States. The report emphasizes the urgent need for substantial and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to limit further warming and mitigate risks. Despite declining U.S. emissions since 2007, the assessment calls for deeper global emissions cuts and enhanced adaptation efforts to prevent severe climate risks in the U.S. The assessment highlights the potential for significant health and economic benefits from rapid emission reductions, likely to outweigh the costs. 

NCA5 is a comprehensive report mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990, requiring the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) to submit a report every four years to Congress and the President. These reports aim to integrate, evaluate, and interpret findings related to global change. They are also tasked with analyzing the impacts of global change on various aspects of the environment and society, including agriculture, energy, health, and biodiversity, and projecting major trends for up to 100 years.

The development of NCA5 involved extensive review by experts from both within and outside the federal government and the public. An ad hoc committee from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provided an additional layer of review. The lead author of the Midwest Chapter of the report was State Climatologist of Ohio and Byrd Center Principal Investigator Aaron Wilson, assistant professor - Ag Weather and Climate Field Specialist, Department of Extension - College of Food and Agriculture and Environmental Science at The Ohio State University.

A white field under blue skies with little feather white clouds.

Image Credit: KATELYN GARCIA, THE DUST WE WILL BREATHE, (2022, INKJET PRINT). Learn more here.

NCA5's key strategies for reducing climate risks include Mitigation, Adaptation, and Resilience. The U.S. has made progress, particularly in reducing emissions from electricity generation, improving energy efficiency, and developing renewable energy technologies. The report underscores the importance of advancing adaptation efforts to manage increasing climate risks, with a range of sector-specific and regional actions being implemented. However, the assessment also acknowledges the trade-offs in climate actions and the need for equitable and inclusive planning.

The report projects that climate change will continue to intensify, exacerbating existing inequities, particularly in communities with social and economic disparities. It warns that even with significant emission reductions, harmful impacts of climate change are expected to increase, especially in overburdened communities. The conclusion stresses the crucial role of societal choices and human behavior in determining future climate trajectories, underscoring the urgency of transformative climate action to build a more resilient and just nation.

View the NCA5 Overview via PDF or learn more by visiting NCA5.

See more images by visiting the USGCRP's Art X Climate Gallery 

right image credit:  GLACIERS, LAST CALL by CHRISTIAN MURILLO (2022, PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT) Learn more here. 

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