Report: Climate change promises more tough summers

An Obama aide recently hinted that climate change probably won't take center stage in the campaign, explaining that the president’s position is well-known. The Obama administration has touted green energy technology as well as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. 

With Romney and the GOP rank and file pushing an energy platform with expanded greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuel exploration and reduced pollution regulation as the foundation, environmentalists and congressional Democrats have called for more debate on climate change. They see Republican energy policies as an affront to both climate change and environmental concerns.

The League of Conservation Voters last week launched a petition drive to get a question on climate change into the Oct. 3 presidential debate.

The NWF report said flooding is one of the results of climate change, and that Mississippi is no stranger to it. In 2011, heavy rainfall in that state caused $3 billion worth of damage, the report said.

Flooding and rising sea levels have alarmed Democratic lawmakers in coastal states, who fear infrastructure and property destruction could be the result of continued climate change. Those legislators have pointed to melting Arctic sea ice — and the resulting rise in sea levels — as evidence of an abnormally warming planet.

The report notes that July, at an average temperature of 77.6 F, was the nation's hottest month on record — a full 3.3 F above the 20th-century average. During that month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Arctic sea ice had reached its second-lowest recorded level for July. It eclipsed the all-time record low on Tuesday.

The report said the heat warmed waterways enough to exacerbate fish kills in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. Heat can kill fish that are not used to hot water; heat also depletes oxygen in the water and expedites the growth of harmful algae, the report explained.

Climate change is also harming crop production, the report noted. The drought that has hit about two-thirds of the country drove down crop yields for various agricultural products, it noted.

Corn has struggled under the drought, with the Agriculture Department predicting the lowest yield since 2006. The report said Michigan tart cherries production — which accounts for about 71 percent of the nation’s supply — dropped to 2 million pounds, down from 135 million pounds in 2010.

This post was updated at 12:22 p.m.