From the hurricanes that ravaged Southern states earlier this year to the freak early winter storm that paralyzed the East coast this fall, it should seem evident that something strange is going on with our weather.

Now, after spending two years analyzing data from all over the world, a panel of 100 weather experts has concluded that climate change is bringing more extreme weather to the planet. Released Friday, the report is from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The panel also concluded that the problem will worsen and bring even more problems over the next century.

Such weather changes will have real impacts on everything from agriculture to water supplies to health and tourism.

It is the latest piece of science that should open eyes to the very real threat posed by our changing climate.

The panel's report reinforced comments made on the UW-Madison campus this week by Rudy Baum, the editor of Chemical & Engineering News.

In a talk titled "Sustainable Growth is an Oxymoron," Baum warned that it is beyond time for us to acknowledge that climate change is no longer something that will happen in the future. It's happening now.

"It's no longer just a problem for our children or our grandchildren," Baum said. "It's a problem for us."

Perhaps part of the problem, Baum said, is that a full understanding of the impact of our changing climate isn't really conveyed by portraying the problem as a warming climate. Perhaps a better way of describing what's happening would be "global climate disruption," Baum said.

That certainly seems apt when you consider what Friday's report warned is likely ahead. We're in for not only higher temperatures but also more frequent and heavier rains, especially in winter; stronger hurricanes that will do more damage; increased droughts, especially in the center of the country; and higher sea levels, which will bring more coastal erosion and other damage.

Baum exhorted everyone to urge government action to tackle the root cause of climate change, primarily the burning of fossil fuels. And he warned that it is everyone's problem. After all, he pointed out, each of us in this country uses about 25 barrels of oil per year.

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