Climate change increasing risks in Washington

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 6, 2014 at 6:08 pm •  Published: May 6, 2014
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SEATTLE (AP) — Climate change is already impacting forests, increasing wildfire risks, threatening coastal communities and reducing water supply in Washington state, a new federal scientific report found Tuesday.

The National Climate Assessment said Washington state faces key challenges, including changes in the snowmelt that is reducing water supply, rising sea level and acidity of marine waters that threatens the shellfish industry, and warmer, drier conditions that are contributing to more wildfires.

"These three risks — to our water, coast and forests — are not lurking on the horizon. They are here," said Philip Mote, a professor at Oregon State University and lead author of the report's Northwest region chapter. "The region is already having to adapt to these changes."

Gov. Jay Inslee says the federal report highlights the need to take action to reduce carbon pollution in the state. Last week, the Democratic governor signed an executive order aimed at reducing carbon pollution, including directing a task force to recommend how to cap greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

"This assessment confirms that the costs of inaction on climate change are unacceptable for our state, and our children's future," Inslee said in a statement. "This challenge is significant, but it is matched by tremendous opportunities."

The report was written by more than 250 scientists and government officials, starting in 2012.

In the Northwest, declining snowpack and changes in the snowmelt timing are already happening and will continue, reducing the supply of water for farming, people and fish.

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