Hot Topic: NOAA. Three reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released this week tell a sobering story about the increased heat being trapped in our atmosphere by greenhouse gas emissions and the very real impacts we can expect to feel this year.
First, NOAA’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index found that human-caused emissions of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide trap 49% more heat today than when the Index began in 1990. And despite increasingly dire warnings from the IPCC and the fact that some countries have started to implement changes, the global rate of emissions is still accelerating. The annual increase in CO2 emissions over the last year was 73% higher than it was throughout the 1990s, and levels of methane in the atmosphere increased more rapidly over the past two years than at any other time since ongoing measurement began in 1983.
Two more reports from NOAA this week predicted intensified weather this summer. Nearly every state in the U.S. is predicted to have higher-than-average heat from now through August. And across the West, increased heat is paired with predictions of below-average rainfall, which can only exacerbate the devastating drought and wildfires that are increasingly becoming the new normal for nearly 80 million Americans.
By contrast, NOAA predicts above-average rainfall along the Atlantic Coast and the 7th consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season for the U.S., fueled by warmer water in storm-forming areas. NOAA predicts that the Atlantic Coast can expect as many as 21 named storms this year, including up to 10 hurricanes.
Findings released this week about the long-term health impacts of climate change make NOAA’s reports even more concerning. One study of two million Canadians found that people who lived within 30 miles of a wildfire over the past decade have a 10% greater risk of brain cancer and 4.9% greater risk of lung cancer compared to those not exposed to wildfire pollutants.
Finally, a global study conducted by The InterAcademy Partnership underscored the fact that billions of people face health threats from climate change. According to the study, climate change is fueling destructive impacts—including but not limited to wildfires and extreme weather—that lead to a wide range of health conditions, including cardiovascular and respiratory disease, water- and food-borne illness, malnutrition and mental disorders worldwide.
— Matt and Traci, GMMB