EPA grows its climate change trends list

The Environmental Protection Agency added four new trends to its growing list of indicators this year that signal climate change is happening now.

“These indicators make it clear that climate change is a serious problem and is happening now here in the U.S. and around the world,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Everything we do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the changes that are already underway will help us safeguard our children’s future.”

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In its third edition of the climate change indicators report, which was last published in 2012, the EPA added additional years of data, and new indicators. There are 30 total to date. 

The EPA added Lyme disease, heating and cooling degree days, wildfires and water level and temperature in the Great Lakes as four new indicators of climate change that the U.S. is experiencing already in its 2014 report.

The number of Lyme disease incidents have roughly doubled since 1991, the report states. The EPA also said that while the increase in cases isn't caused by climate change alone, it is an important contributing factor, and cases are on the rise.

The EPA also found that out of the 10 years with the largest acreage burned by wildfires across the U.S. to date, nine have occurred since 2000.

The agency said it added the four new indicators because long-term data that revealed "trends that relate directly or indirectly to the causes or effects of climate change" has become more available.

"Indi­cators of climate change are expected to become even more numerous and depict even clearer trends in the future," the EPA said in a emailed statement.

The report comes days before the administration is set to unveil its strongest climate change regulation to date, the first carbon emissions limits for existing power plants.

On Wednesday, the EPA defended the rule from opponent attacks, and President Obama warmed up the waters for the coming proposal in a speech to West Point graduates.

Obama said the U.S. isn't exempt from climate rules, especially if it expects global leaders to take action as well.

"We can’t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if so many of our political leaders deny that it is taking place," Obama said on Wednesday. "You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example."