Why It Matters
Our Communities Face Extreme Weather
People in cities and towns across the US are facing more and more extreme weather linked to climate change. Heat waves, heavy downpours, wildfires, floods and droughts. In various regions of the country, these events are all growing in frequency or intensity or both, creating human suffering and costing taxpayers billions of dollars.
Oceans Are Acidifying; Sea Levels Are Rising
Both people and wildlife depend on the health of our oceans, as a source of livelihoods and sustenance. Our oceans absorb most of the warming and the carbon pollution occurring today, even more than our atmosphere. The warmer ocean is bleaching coral reefs and driving stronger storms. As they absorb carbon dioxide, oceans become more acidic, threatening most shelled organisms, including small crustaceans fundamental to the marine food chain.
The Arctic polar ice cap is dissolving before our eyes, impacting weather around the globe and the threatening the marvelous Arctic ecosystem. The National Climate Assessment shows Alaska has already warmed twice as fast as the rest of the nation. Arctic summer sea ice is receding faster than previously projected and is expected to virtually disappear before mid-century. This threatens the long-term health of walrus and polar bear populations. It’s also opening new areas to human development, shipping, and oil and gas drilling, creating a new set of threats to this incredibly diverse and important ecosystem.
In the arid Southwest, where WWF works to restore and improve the Rio Grande, climate change is making this work harder by affecting water supplies, and agricultural production. Snowpack and streamflow levels are in decline in parts of the Southwest, decreasing water reliability for cities, agriculture, and ecosystems.
Increases in winter and spring precipitation are impacting wildlife, agriculture and soils in the Northern Great Plains, our nation’s last intact grasslands. Energy development, driven by the demand for fossil fuels, is destroying fragile habitat and threatening some of our healthiest remaining grasslands, which bison and other creatures rely on to survive.