Public comment period closing for US gov’t report on climate change impacts in the US


Tomorrow is the deadline for public comment on a report many were surprised to see initiated under the Bush White House:  “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.”  An about-face from the typical Bush administration reluctance to connect the dots between fossil fuel emissions and climate disruption, this easy-to-read report spells out our current understanding of the myriad consequences for US residents of loading Earth’s atmosphere with greenhouse gases.  This is CSW’s “last call” to our readers for submitting comments due Feb. 27, and a heads up that, when completed, this document should be on President Obama’s must-read list.  See details. 

post by Anne Polansky

First, the essentials:

Second draft of the so-called Unified Synthesis Product, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States”:  HERE in .pdf

Instructions for submitting comments:  HERE  (Federal Register, January 13, 2009)

In a move out-of-character for the Bush White House—known for downplaying, suppressing, and engaging in outright censorship of scientific accounts drawing connections between fossil fuel emissions and climate disruption—a group of notable federal scientists were assembled in early 2008 and charged with producing a single, easy-to-read report full of straight talk and colorful graphics showing just how we can expect climate change to disrupt our lives in tangible ways. 

Some of our very best US government scientists engaged in climate change research were asked to scan all 21 of the US Climate Change Science Program’s “Synthesis and Assessment Products” as well as the current scientific literature to produce a summary depicting state-of-the-art understanding of climate impacts.

The first draft of the “Unified Synthesis Product” in July 2008 raised concerns among some climate scientists (concerned that the report took too many liberties in the translation from highly technical information to simplified, lay-friendly text) and the usual cast of climate change denialists (who took advantage of the short-cuts taken to try to discredit the report). 

We described some of the controversy this first draft generated in an earlier post:

New and much improved “Unified Synthesis Report” is open for a second round of public comment

Hundreds of public and peer-review comments resulted in a decision to undertake extensive revisions and produce a second draft for another round of public scrutiny—a wise decision under the circumstances. 

The second draft (.pdf) released in January is a much-improved version, and, with mild tweaking (according to our own kitchen cabinet of advisers and confidants) lives up to a high standard of excellence and should be on President Obama’s must-read list, as well as that of the entire Cabinet. 

It should also serve as a springboard for resuming (after a forced 8-year hiatus)—and this time on an ongoing basis—the National Assessment of climate change impacts, to follow the first National Assessment completed in 2000.  (The US National Assessment of climate change impacts is now available on DVD, free of charge.  See our earlier post here.)





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