The climate is changing, affecting global temperatures, extreme weather patterns, precipitation, and the oceans. The effects of climate change are already being observed. These impacts are expected to increase in scale and scope over time. Scientists report that at least half of the increases in temperature observed since 1951 are likely attributable to human activity, primarily emission of heat-trapping or “greenhouse” gases (CCSP 2008c). Because of the influence of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change, humans may be able to reduce the rate and severity of climate change by reducing the rate at which carbon and other heat-trapping gases are added to the atmosphere. Some states are already addressing how they can mitigate climate change, primarily by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, how successful these efforts will be is unknown, and some level of climate change is inevitable based on past emissions (Solomon et al. 2009). So, while federal, state, and local governments continue to attend to climate change mitigation, they must also develop strategies for adapting to the impacts of climate change they will not be able to avoid.
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