Video link and key quotes from White House briefing on Global Climate Change Impacts report


Four top climate scientists and government officials—John Holdren, Jane Lubchenco, Jerry Melillo, and Tom Karl—hosted the White House press briefing yesterday to present “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.”  The live streaming video was unavailable for the first portion, but CSW director Rick Piltz attended in person and supplied key quotes via text messaging for our first “live blogging” session on Daily Kos.  The video is now on YouTube.  Here we offer some key messages and quotes, such as NOAA Adminstrator Jane Lubchenco’s:  “The report is a game-changer,” and climate change adversely “affects things people care about.”  And John Holdren:  “It’s time to act, after years of dithering and delay.”

post by Anne Polansky

You can now watch the entire briefing and Q/A session on You Tube:

Other White House resources:

Official site of the US Global Change Research Program  (We note that the name “Climate Change Science Program” is giving way to the original, codified name, a welcome change.)

“Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States”

<a href="" title="White
House Powerpoint Presentation”>White House Powerpoint Presentation

The White House blog


John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy

“This is very much a nonpartisan document, developed under both Republican and Democratic administrations.”

“it is time to act, after many years of dithering and delay.”

Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce and Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  (NOAA was the lead agency for the report)

“The report was prepared by 31 authors, with hundreds of reviewers around country.  It synthesizes the science, and makes the information accessible, understandable, and relevant to the decisions we are making today.”

“Human induced climate change is a reality… every place around the country, in our own backyards, climate change is happening, and it’s happening now.  It’s not just a problem for the future, we are beginning to see its impacts in our daily lives.” 

‘Humans are responsible for these changes, and our actions now will determine the extent of future change and the severity of the impacts.  it’s not too late to act.  Decisions made now will determine whether we get big changes or small ones.. Earlier earlier cuts in emissions of heat-trapping pollution wil have a greater effect than cuts later.”

“It’s important to remember that trends are not destiny.  if we take immediate and sustained action to reduce heat-trapping pollution, we can in fact avoid the most severe impacts.”


Tom Karl, Director, National Climatic Data Center, NOAA

“We have designed our infrastruture [e.g., energy and water] for the climate we have had, not the climate we are going to have.”

“We have built our cities along coastal shorelines, not expecting sea level to rise.

“We have already seen a global average temperature rise of 1.5F over the past 50 years, and we can expect to see an additional 2 to 11 degrees F of warming in this century.”

Jerry Melillo, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole

“Climate change is already posing a threat to our crops and livestock.”

“Our energy and transportation infrastructure in coastal areas is at risk.”

The report updates our state of knowledge and new research on sea level rise:  “We can expect three to four feet of sea level rise by late this century.”

“Sea level rise is already underway; we have documented 8 inches in the last 50 years, and sea level rise is accelerating.”

“Rising sea level is already eroding shorelines, drowning wetlands, and threatening buildings and infrastructure in some coastal areas. Hurricanes combine with rising sea level to increase these threats, and hurricane intensity is expected to intensity in the future.” 

“Sea level rise is putting the Gulf Coast at risk:  2400 miles of roadways and 250 miles of freight rail lines are at risk of permanent flooding over the next over next 50-100 years.  Six out of our top 10 freight gateways are threatened by sea level rise, 7 out of our 10 largest ports are on the Gulf Coast, and 2/3 of all US oil imports are transferred through this region.”

“There are thresholds in the climate system we can expect to cross as a result of climate change.”

It is clear that climate change is happening now.  Observed changes are not opinions to be debated, but facts to be dealt with.”
  (emphasis added)

Jane Lubchenco’s closing remarks:

  “This report is a game-changer.”

  “All of the foot-dragging we’ve seen stems from the perception that climate change is a problem that is down the road, that it will happen sometime in the future, that the problem is remote.”

  “The report states unequivocally that climate change is happening now, and in our own backyards.  It affects things people care about.”

  “The report is good science, science that informs policy.  The science does not dictate policy.”

  “We must act sooner than later.”

  “Climate change affects you and the things you care about.”


The USGCRP, through it’s new “twitter” site, is calling her closing remarks “an historic moment.” 
Indeed, her words rang true, were compelling, and quite possibly will go down in the climate change policy history books.)


Select press coverage:

Associated Press:  White House: Climate change damage happening now

Associated Press:New US climate report dire, but offers hope

Washington Post:  Report: Climate Change Already Affecting U.S.

New York Times:  Government Study Warns of Climate Change Effects

The Guardian (UK):  Manhattan floods, Chicago heatwaves and withering Californian vines: how scientists see the US in 75 years

Jerry Melillo is interviewed in an EarthSky podcast: Jerry Melillo: ‘Significant’ climate impact in U.S.

Daily Climate:  (Piltz quoted) White House underscores climate impact

Piltz quote:  “I have not seen the administration talking much about climate change impacts. I see them messaging the climate change legislation in terms of green jobs and green energy and the need to reduce emissions. But why? Why is it so urgent?” asked Rick Piltz, director of Climate Science Watch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit policy watchdog.  “This makes the case.”

EcoGeek:  U.S. Government Report:  Global Warming is in your Backyard

And an extra bonus:    An alarming image, compliments of a “denialist” blogger


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