The release of the draft U.S. National Climate Assessment for expert and public review got a fair amount of good media coverage. Here, selectively, some links with quotes and annotation of coverage by the Washington Post, UK Guardian, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media, DeSmogBlog, Politico, and Bloomberg/Business Week.
See January 11 CSW post: Draft U.S. National Climate Assessment report released for public review
Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, January 11 online (January 12 print edition): Effects of climate change will be felt more deeply in decades ahead, draft report says
A federal advisory panel released a draft report Friday on how Americans can adapt to a changing climate, a more than 1,000 page tome that also sums up what has become increasingly apparent: The country is hotter than it used to be, rainfall is becoming both more intense and more erratic, and rising seas and storm surges threaten U.S. coasts.
The draft of the third National Climate Assessment warns that with the current rate of global carbon emissions, these impacts will intensify in the coming decades. …
“This draft report sends a warning to all of us: We must act now in a comprehensive fashion to reduce carbon pollution or expose our people to continuing devastation from extreme weather events and their aftermath,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Rick Piltz, who heads the group Climate Science Watch, said the report offers President Obama a rare opening. “He’s said he wants to lead a national conversation on climate change. He should start the national conversation,” Piltz said.
But congressional Republicans are expected to oppose any such efforts. …
See November 14, 2012 post: Obama says he will elevate national climate change ‘conversation’
Obama at White House news conference:
[W]e haven’t done as much as we need to.
So what I’m going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers, and elected officials to find out what can — what more can we do to make a short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education process that I think is necessary — a discussion, a conversation across the country about what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is not something we’re passing on to future generations that’s going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with.
Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian (UK), January 11: Climate change set to make America hotter, drier and more disaster-prone
The National Climate Assessment, released in draft form on Friday, provided the fullest picture to date of the real-time effects of climate change on US life, and the most likely consequences for the future.
The 1,000-page report, the work of the more than 300 government scientists and outside experts, was unequivocal on the human causes of climate change, and on the links between climate change and extreme weather.
“Climate change is already affecting the American people,” the draft report said. “Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense including heat waves, heavy downpours and in some regions floods and drought. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and Arctic sea ice are melting.” …
“Proactively preparing for climate change can reduce impacts, while also facilitating a more rapid and efficient response to changes as they happen,” said Katharine Jacobs, the director of the National Climate Assessment. …
The report states clearly that the steps taken by Obama so far to reduce emissions are “not close to sufficient” to prevent the most severe consequences of climate change. …
As the report made clear: no place in America had gone untouched by climate change. Nowhere would be entirely immune from the effects of future climate change. …
“The draft assessment offers a perfect opportunity for President Obama at the outset of his second term,” said Lou Leonard, director of the climate change programme for the World Wildlife Fund. “When a similar report was released in 2009, the Administration largely swept it under the rug. This time, the President should use it to kick-start a national conversation on climate change.”
See CSW Climate Change Preparedness post archive.
It’s good to see Kathy Jacobs from the White House Office and Science and Technology Policy using the concept of “proactively preparing for climate change”.
This is a valuable article that we will revisit in a subsequent post:
From a public opinion perspective, it’s hard to think of a more propitious moment for the arrival of such a document. Polling suggests that Americans are increasingly aware—and unnerved—that our world is changing rapidly. They’ve seen the devastation from Superstorm Sandy and the droughts across the heartland. “The third assessment is coming out at a time when it is now becoming better understood that the words ‘climate change’ are not the third rail of politics,” says Ed Maibach, director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication and a member of the federal advisory committee that wrote the new assessment. “Data is accumulating to show that Americans want their politicians to take action.”
But will they? Shortly after his reelection, President Obama pledged to lead a “conversation across the country” about climate change. This new report is perhaps the single best conversation piece he’s likely to encounter.
What makes the new National Climate Assessment so powerful—and accordingly, so threatening to the climate-change deniers—is that it brings the debate down from the atmosphere and puts it, Google Maps-style, right smack in your backyard. And unlike the two previous national assessments—which, largely for political reasons, failed to reach the audience they deserved—this document might finally help push us to deal meaningfully with a problem we should have addressed decades ago.
With a little help from the president, that is.
Tom Zeller, Huffington Post: National Climate Assessment Details Stronger Evidence Of Global Warming And Its Impacts
The report’s roots can be traced to the The Global Change Research Act of 1990, which required that a national climate assessment be conducted every four years, with a report issued to the president and Congress. The legislation led to the formation of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, an inter-governmental body involving 13 federal agencies and departments, including the Departments of Commerce, Defense and Energy, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation, among others.
The first such assessment was not published until 2000, however, and it was subsequently attacked by conservative groups who claimed that it exaggerated the climate threat. One group, the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute, filed multiple lawsuits arguing that the findings were not subjected to federal guidelines for scientific research.
The next full climate assessment was not published until 2009, after President Barack Obama took office.
See CSW posts:
Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times: Climate assessment delivers a grim overview
… “The findings in the report are a three-alarm fire,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills). “Climate change is already causing widespread disruption across the nation. We are in deep trouble if we don’t act forcefully this year.”
But with the White House working on so many economic, foreign and domestic policy fronts, it remains unclear if the president will speak up more on climate, let alone spearhead new initiatives. …
Seth Borentein, Associated Press: Report Says Warming is Changing US Daily Life
WASHINGTON (AP) — Global warming is already changing America from sea to rising sea and is affecting how Americans live, a massive new federally commissioned report says.
A special panel of scientists convened by the government issued Friday a 1,146-page draft report that details in dozens of ways how climate change is already disrupting the health, homes and other facets of daily American life. It warns that those disruptions will increase in the future.
“Climate change affects everything that you do,” said report co-author Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina. “It affects where you live, where you work and where you play and the infrastructure that you need to do all these things. It’s more than just the polar bears.”
The blunt report takes a global environmental issue and explains what it means for different U.S. regions, for various sectors of the economy and for future generations. …
The report uses the word “threat” or variations of it 198 times and versions of the word “disrupt” another 120 times.
If someone were to list every aspect of life changed or likely to be altered from global warming, it would easily be more than 100, said two of the report’s authors. …
“There is so much that is already happening today,” said study co-author Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. “This is no longer a future issue. It’s an issue that is staring us in the face today”
This version of the report is far more blunt and confident in its assessments than previous ones, Hayhoe said: “The bluntness reflects the increasing confidence we have” in the science and day-to-day realities of climate change.
Lisa Palmer, Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media: Climate Change 2.0: National Assessment Hammers Home Science Findings
The newly released National Climate Assessment from a team of federal agencies reinforces the climate-concerned messages from other reports and from a record year of natural disaster damages. But a question remains: Are the public and their leaders hearing the messages?
Farron Cousins, DeSmogBlog: National Climate Assessment Delivers Dire Warning On Climate Threat
Andrew Restuccia, Politico: Report: Climate change triggers extreme weather events
Mark Drajem, Bloomberg/Business Week: Climate Panel Says Coast, Midwest at Risk of Extreme Weather