There's a new tone in the latest report on climate change from the
Corn and wheat yields are down, the report says, possible harbingers of future disruption to the global food supply. Animals are migrating toward areas of cooler temperatures nearer the poles. The mountain snowpack in the Western United States is diminishing, reducing the country's water supply. Coral reefs, which shelter a quarter of the ocean's species, are bleaching — losing the algae that color them, causing their death over time. Droughts and heat waves are becoming more frequent and more intense. The number of people dying from the heat has increased in some regions, while the number of cold-related deaths has decreased.
Climate change is even transforming the Alaskan shore, the report says. The loss of sea ice has produced bigger waves, more erosion and the forced movement of some settlements away from the coast.
Of course, the report also includes a lot of predictions: higher sea levels, flooding of low-lying major cities, more of the extreme weather events that already have become familiar. On food, the report is more circumspect: There will be shifts in what kinds of crops grow best, and where and when they can be farmed, but it's unclear exactly what those transformations will be. Still, people in the poorest countries will be at even greater risk of starvation.
The panel points out that many governments are falling behind in two ways: Not only are they doing too little to slow and perhaps reverse climate change, but they are failing to adapt to its ongoing impacts. The United States has done some incremental planning, and some states and cities have begun more serious work. After