Editor's note: Bill Richardson is the former governor of New Mexico, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, former U.S. Energy Secretary, and a current board member of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization on environmental issues. He serves on the boards or consults with companies in the energy field. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
(CNN) -- "Nothing poses a bigger threat to our water, our livelihood and our quality of life than a warming climate." Those are my words from 2006 upon the signing of an executive order on climate change for New Mexico when I was governor.
Almost a decade later, this statement still holds true. But now we have even more information about climate change, both the risks and solutions.
The just-released report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a collection of more than 800 leading climate scientists, reaffirms that climate impacts are already occurring and having a dramatic impact on society. Climate change is driven by our dependence on fossil fuels and is expected to get worse. In order to shift directions, we need nothing less than to rethink how we power our country.
Here's what we know:
The climate science is settled. The IPCC report is the latest addition to a staggering body of scientific research connecting our energy choices to costly climate disruption. The report is consistent with several other authorities -- such as the National Academy of Sciences, U.S. Global Change Research Program, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- that bring stronger language and greater certainty about climate change and its risks. Just as we know that smoking causes cancer, we understand that human activity causes climate change.
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