A report presented to President Obama’s science advisor, Dr. John P. Holdren, based on the National Climate Adaptation Summit in May 2010 states that significant and dramatic steps need to be taken by all segments of society for the United States to minimize thenegative impacts of climate change. The report reconfirms the urgentneed for a well-coordinated national effort with local solutions toaddress the effects of extreme conditions being brought about by globalwarming.
The report provides guidelines for the kinds of actions that need tobe taken now to provide the tools and support necessary to enable people and businesses to deal with a different climate in the 21st century. Our climate will involve more extreme heat waves, droughts, floods,hurricanes and rising sea levels – changes that will pose enormouschallenges to our economy, our infrastructure, health care,transportation, energy needs, the environment, food production and more.
“The real takeaway from this report is that our nation is at risk and we’re not ready,” said Sherwood Boehlert, Special Advisor to theProject on Climate Science and former Congressman (R-NY) and Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Science. “Climate change is alreadyoccurring in the United States and around the world, but we are notresponding quickly enough,” he said.
Summit participants identified the key barriers to an effectiveresponse to changing climate as including “the lack of: (1) an overallnational climate adaptation strategy, (2) clear federal leadership andcoordination, (3) access to critical tools and information, and (4)appropriate training for climate adaptation leaders and the broaderworkforce. Thus, most federal, public, tribal, or private sector groupsand organizations find it quite difficult to undertake effective climate adaptation planning or evaluate the risks and vulnerabilities they arefacing.”
Citing markedly rising temperatures dramatically affectingprecipitation patterns and amounts, the report noted major impacts to“forests, agriculture, water resources, urban areas and many othereconomic sectors and sensitive ecosystems.” And, while the climate isalready changing, there was strong consensus that aggressive action toimplement “wise adaptation measures can help minimize the negativeimpacts of a changing climate on our nation’s communities, businesses,ecosystems, and citizens.”
But there is no mistaking the enormity of the problem or the hugenational response at all levels that is needed. “The changing climatewill transform our way of life as dramatically or even more dramatically than any event in our history save for, perhaps, the Revolutionary Warand the Civil War,” added Boehlert. “We must ask ourselves: ‘Are wegoing to stay ahead of these changes as the report suggests, or are wegoing to be reactive and put our children’s health and welfare atrisk?’”
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