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Climate report warns of more heat waves, flooding for Md.

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Maryland and the rest of the Northeast face more heat waves and smog, heavier downpours and storm-driven flooding that could damage Baltimore's port, according to a new report released by the Obama administration.

The third National Climate Assessment, drawing on new research findings over the past four years, concludes that climate change is already occurring, impacting virtually every region and key sectors of the U.S. economy.

The White House and environmental groups said the assessment underscores the need to do more to curtail climate-altering emissions, while also preparing to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of changes already under way.

The report comes at a time when the Obama administration faces growing political pressure over the Keystone XL pipeline, with Congress considering approving it after the administration delayed its decision on the project amid intense opposition from environmentalists.

Besides updating the growing scientific evidence of climate change, the report projects impacts in every region.  In the mid-Atlantic, it predicts there'll be more than 60 more days of temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit by mid-century than were normal in the 1990s. That could worsen summertime smog, it says, increasing health risks for vulnerable children and adults.

Changing weather patterns are likely to affect the region's farming and fishing industries, the report says. Maryland and neighboring Delaware are particularly vulnerable to rising sea level and storms because of their extensive, relatively flat coastlines, the report notes. And it warns that as much as a third of Baltimore's port, a major economic engine for the state, could be impacted by more severe coastal flooding expected as a result of rising sea levels.

Unable to get any climate legislation through Congress, the Obama administration has pressed ahead with regulations and executive actions to clamp down on carbon emissions from power plants, improve energy efficiency of buildings and motor vehicles and promote renewable power.

Maryland is among the states that have taken action as well, developing a plan for curbing carbon emissions within its borders while promoting development of more renewable energy. The O'Malley administration also has tried to get local  communities to plan for climate impacts, particularly rising sea level and severe storms.

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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