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Climate Change on Your Plate

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page.

An unprecedented July heat wave in California in 2006 causes the death of 70,000 poultry and more than 25,000 dairy cows.  Farmers across the Southeast suffer widespread losses during severe drought conditions in 2007. High rainfall in June 2008 causes massive flooding throughout the Midwest. Arkansas and Louisiana farmers sustain crop losses of over $1 billion dollars during Mississippi River flooding in the spring and summer of 2011. A late spring freeze following an unusually warm spring makes 2012 the worst year ever recorded for Michigan fruit growers. Record high beef prices in 2013 follow historic drought in Texas cattle country. In spring 2014, for the first time in the state's history, California vegetable and fruit growers learn that they will get no water from Federal or State water projects as water supplies dwindle due to warmer winters and a continuing drought. Is this normal weather variability, or are we experiencing a taste of the game changing power of climate change?

The Third National Climate Assessment (NCA), released May 6, 2014, confirms that climate change is happening here and it is happening now. The report warns that the disruptions caused by more variable and extreme weather over the last decade - the warmest on record in the U.S. - are likely to increase substantially in the future unless we take action to reduce global emissions of heat-trapping gasses and to enhance our nation's resilience to climate change.

The NCA is a periodic federal report to the nation that explains the connections between human activities, global warming and climate change. The new report describes current and future effects of climate change on seven major sectors of the U.S. economy: water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, ecosystems and human health. The report also explores how climate change effects are amplified through the linking of multiple economic sectors, for example water, energy and agriculture. And for the first time, the NCA focuses on adaptation planning to reduce the damages associated with climate disruption and to take advantage of opportunities created by a changing climate.    
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