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Latest National Climate Report Shows Big Impacts In The Northwest

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As sea levels rise, waves will crash with greater intensity along the coast.

Global climate change is having tangible effects all over the country, including in Washington and the greater northwest.

That’s according to the latest National Climate Assessment released Tuesday by the Obama administration.

Professor Philip Mote, a former Washington state climatologist who now teaches at Oregon State University, is lead author of the report’s chapter on the northwest. He says the risks to water, coasts and forests are already here.

“Higher temperatures and drought stress are contributing to outbreaks of mountain pine beetles that are killing trees in the dryer northwest forests," Mote said. "Wildfires have always occurred, but the data show that warmer and drier conditions have helped increase the number and extent of wildfires in western US forests since the 1970s.” 

At the same time, Mote says shrinking snow pack in the mountains is reducing summer water supply that’s needed by endangered salmon and for agriculture. And along the coast, communities are dealing with the effects of rising sea levels and increased acidity of the Pacific Ocean.

Gov. Jay Inslee says the latest climate report is another reminder of the need for more clean energy and increased energy efficiency. He recently appointed a 21-member task force, charged with bringing a carbon reduction plan before the Washington Legislature next year. 

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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