Study finds support for 2009 EPA finding on climate change

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- University of Virginia environmental scientist and colleagues at other academic organizations have published a new study finding the evidence for climate change is more compelling than ever.

The study, published in the journal Science, found evidence supporting a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finding from 2009 that said the “endangerment finding” for greenhouse gases is stronger and more conclusive in the changing climate of today.

According to a release, the finding could strengthen challenges to proposed rollbacks of emissions standards and carbon emissions regulations in the United States.

In the 2009 endangerment finding, the EPA found excessive amounts of six so-called greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, which created a legal obligation for the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the federal Clean Air Act.

“The scientific case is clear and compelling: greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change and ocean acidification, with a host of negative consequences for people, communities, the economy and the environment,” wrote study co-author Scott Doney, a member of the UVA Environmental Resilience Institute.

This paper has been published just three months after a senior Republican senator said the Trump administration may move to repeal the Clean Air Act.

It includes 16 authors from 15 organizations and assesses how the scientific evidence has changed in the years since the original finding was released while specifically focusing on climate change impacts for public health, air quality, agriculture, forestry, water resources, sea-level rise, energy, infrastructure, wildlife, ocean acidification, social instability and the economy.

The new paper examines each topic from the EPA finding and characterizes changes since 2009 with links to anthropogenic climate change, severity of observed and projected impacts of change, and new risks associated with it.

The lead author of the paper, Woods hole Research Center President Philip Duffy, says the evidence from the original finding was extremely compelling, and not the evidence is even stronger and more comprehensive, with no scientific basis for questioning the endangerment finding.

“Climate change is a problem facing us today, not just an issue for the future,” said Doney. “Climate warming caused by elevated greenhouse gases is exacerbating droughts and wildfires in the western U.S., coastal communities are experiencing more frequent flooding due to sea-level rise, and storms bring more intense rainfall because of a warmer ocean and stronger water cycle.”

The study also expanded the range of negative impacts from climate change beyond the ones listed in the 2009 finding, now included ocean acidification, impacts on national security and economic well-being, and threats from violence in the wake of increasing natural disasters including flooding, hurricanes and wildfires.

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