|Media Advisory||Contact: Zachary Warnow|
|May 23, 2008||415-397-5000 x311|
USDA Report Predicts Costly, Far-Reaching
Climate Change Impacts in the West
Urban and Rural Areas, Rangelands, Deserts,
Forests and Fish Stocks All Affected
[San Francisco] A public draft of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) report scheduled for release Tuesday includes findings that climate change already has inflicted major damage on large sections of the western United States and predicts impacts will spread to more areas and become more severe.
Resource Media fact sheets with citations and verbatim draft findings excerpted for Arid Lands, Rangelands, Western Forests and Fish Stocks are available online at: www.usdaclimatereport.com.
The 227-page draft USDA report, "The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity," was culled from reviews of more than 1,000 publications. It is one in a series of 21 analyses of global warming by federal agencies conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, which coordinates the climate change research activities of U.S. government agencies.
The full draft USDA report covers several topics and examines impacts across the United States. Included in the draft are estimates on a broad range of serious, often interconnected impacts in the West:
- Arid Lands: The West's arid lands comprise one of the nation's fastest-growing regions, and include the cities of Las Vegas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Predicted impacts include "continental-scale impacts on downwind ecosystems, air quality, and human populations" from increased wind erosion; major losses of signature desert species, such as saguaro cactus and Joshua trees; and increased drought, severe rainstorms, and erosion, which will help spark widespread desertification.
- Rangelands: Predicted impacts include "climate changes . . . (that) could impact the economic viability of livestock production systems worldwide;" major economic losses to the livestock industry from the combined impacts of climate change (heat waves, loss of quality food plants) and historic land management practices; and disappearing rangelands from the Great Plains to the desert Southwest, with grasses replaced by invasive, non-native shrubs and trees.
- Forests: Predicted impacts include major increases in the size and scope of insect infestations and wildfires. Because forests absorb and store carbon, dead forests release that stored carbon back into the atmosphere, which has the potential to further increase climate change impacts.
- Fish Stocks: Impacts include dwindling salmon runs, with some rivers becoming too warm to support any salmon at all; serious fresh-water stream damage from lower water flows, higher temperatures, silting from erosion and non-native plant invasions; major losses of cold-water lake fish habitat; and substantial degradation of water quality.
Report and contact information
The report is scheduled for release Tuesday, May 27, at 9 a.m. EDT. A final draft of the report is currently available online at: http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap4-3/default.php.
Resource Media fact sheets with citations and verbatim draft findings for Arid Lands, Rangelands, Western Forests and Fish Stocks are available online at: www.usdaclimatereport.com. For more information, please contact Zachary Warnow at 415-397-5000 ext. 311.
The U.S.D.A. is scheduled to hold a teleconference with report authors Tuesday, May 27, at 11 a.m. EDT. Call-In Number: 888-989-9783. Participant Pass Code: 2513469
For more information, contact Brenda Chapin 202-720-5447 or William Hohenstein 202-720-6698, U.S.D.A.
The report will be posted online at 9 a.m. EDT on May 27 at: http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap4-3/default.php.