Human-driven climate change is already apparent in every corner of the United States, according to the White House’s 2014 National Climate Assessment.
The new report also definitively links the burning of coal and oil to intensifying climate conditions in Southern Arizona. It makes those connections with stronger confidence than ever before, said Jonathan Overpeck, a professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona and a contributor to the report.
"The impacts in Arizona are like a bull's eye of climate change. We’re the part of the country that’s drying out the fastest, that’s clear in this report, and we’re also one of the states of the union that are warming the fastest," he said.
Overpeck said the warmer temperatures, and reduced snowpack and rainfall are resulting in a reduction of water in the Colorado River and the Rio Grande, a dying off of forests and vegetation, as well as a heightened risk of wildfire.
And the National Climate Assessment projects that conditions will only intensify. Average temperatures across the southwestern U.S. are expected to rise up to 10 degrees by the end of the century.
Overpeck said climate change is hard to reverse without sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere.
“And we don’t have an economic way to do that yet. So the next best option is to stop it and prevent the situation from getting worse. Prevent the drying and the warming and all of the impacts that come from that from continuing," he said.
Read the full report here.