Climate is defined as an area's long-term weather patterns. The simplest way to describe climate is to look at average temperature and precipitation over time. Moreover Climate patterns play a fundamental role in shaping natural ecosystems,
and the human economies and cultures that depend on them. But the
climate we’ve come to expect is not what it used to be, because the past
is no longer a reliable predictor of the future. Our climate is rapidly
changing with disruptive impacts, and that change is progressing faster
than any seen in the last 2,000 years.
According to the report, Preparing for a Changing Climate,
rising levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the
atmosphere have warmed the Earth and are causing wide-ranging impacts,
including rising sea levels; melting snow and ice; more extreme heat
events, fires and drought; and more extreme storms, rainfall and floods.
Scientists project that these trends will continue and in some cases
accelerate, posing significant risks to human health, our forests,
agriculture, freshwater supplies, coastlines, and other natural
resources that are vital to Washington state’s economy, environment, and
our quality of life.
Because so many systems are tied to climate, a change in climate can
affect many related aspects of where and how people, plants and animals
live, such as food production, availability and use of water, and health
risks. For example, a change in the usual timing of rains or
temperatures can affect when plants bloom and set fruit, when insects
hatch or when streams are their fullest. This can affect historically
synchronized pollination of crops, food for migrating birds, spawning of
fish, water supplies for drinking and irrigation, forest health, and
Some short-term climate variation is normal, but longer-term trends now indicate a changing climate.
Our state and societies around the globe need to reduce human-caused
greenhouse gas emissions to avoid worsening climate impacts and reduce
the risk of creating changes beyond our ability to respond and adapt.
Washington state is addressing this challenge and has adopted policies
to reduce energy use, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and build a clean
energy economy. Some changes in climate — and impacts on our state — are
unavoidable, even if we reduce greenhouse gas emissions today. But we
can take more actions to reduce progressively worsening impacts.