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Draft National Climate Assessment: Time to Weigh In On Climate Change
I know a lot of folks don’t need a report to tell them that climate change is happening now.
Especially since 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded, the arctic sea ice extent set a new record low in recorded history, the northeast was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and drought and wildfires struck all over the western part of the United States.
But there is one group who may just need a report to actually show them that climate change is real and is happening now. You guessed it, it’s Congress.
Back in 1990 when the U.S. Congress passed (and President George H.W. Bush signed) the U.S. Global Change Research Act, it actually mandated that federal agencies produce just such a report every four years. The latest installment of this National Climate Assessment was recently released in draft form for public review. This draft report is the most comprehensive review of U.S. climate impacts to date. It includes analyses of how climate change is already affecting specific regions and sectors of national relevance, from agriculture to health to transportation.
However, Congress has failed to take the scientific research and turn it into policy. Policy that protects future generations from the devastating effects of climate change, and works to mitigate the climate change we are experiencing today.
It’s like the kid who has a math book with all the answers in the back, but refuses to do the work to find the solutions. That kid usually fails the class. In this case, Congress is failing its country. Let’s make them do the math.
So when the President addressed climate in his Inauguration speech, saying,
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.
“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.
“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries—we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure—our forests and waterways; our croplands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”
I think he’s saying, “Hey, we can’t deny or ignore science any longer. It is time to take action.”
As we know, action is not something that Congress is particularly keen on these days. That’s why we’ve got to push them. Right now is the time to raise our voices so that when the report lands on their desks next year they know what to do with it. And they know we’re paying attention.