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At 1:30 pm today, the White House will release a major new report on the implications of global climate disruption for the United States.  Go to www.whitehouse.gov/live, and www.globalchange.org/usimpacts  Climate Science Watch is blogging on this today.  "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States" is the first climate science report to come out under the Obama administration, and the most significant U.S. climate impacts assessment since the first National Assessment was issued in 2000. It’s time to start making up for eight lost years under an administration that left the federal government AWOL in dealing with this problem. Right now the United States doesn’t have the policies, institutions, and research in place to deal with the consequences of climate disruption. There is a void in the federal system that such a planning and preparedness capability must now be created to fill. The need to jump-start federal action is urgent and should not be delayed by the daunting challenge of enacting major climate legislation.

Climate Science Watch Director Rick Piltz issued this press release today,  through our parent organization, the Government Accountability Project, also posted on our website.

This post is by Anne Polansky, Sr. Associate for Climate Science Watch.
~~~

Government Accountability Project / Climate Science Watch press release:

Government Accountability Project
1612 K Street, NW Suite #1100 • Washington, D.C. 20006
202.408.0034 • http://www.whistleblower.org
June 16, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Dylan Blaylock, GAP Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 137, 202.236.3733
Email: dylanb@whistleblower.org

Contact: Rick Piltz, Climate Science Watch Director
Email: Director@climatesciencewatch.org

Climate Change Impact Report Shows Immediate Need for Action

Obama Administration Must Lead in Preparing for Global Climate Disruption

(Washington, D.C) – Later today, the President’s Science and Technology Adviser John Holdren will release a major new report on the implications of global climate disruption for the United States. This is the first climate science report to come out under the Obama administration, and the most significant U.S. climate impact assessment since the first National Assessment was issued in 2000.

"It’s time to start making up for eight lost years under an administration that left the federal government AWOL in dealing with this problem," said Rick Piltz, Director of GAP’s Climate Science Watch program.

While the National Assessment report from 2000 was suppressed by the Bush administration, this new report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, is being trumpeted by the White House.

"Right now the United States doesn’t have the policies, institutions, and research in place to deal with the consequences of climate disruption," Piltz said. "There is a void in the federal system that such a planning and preparedness capability must now be created to fill. We have inherited the situation left behind by the Bush Administration, under which, with climate change, we witnessed a familiar modus operandi: deny and misrepresent the intelligence; suppress honest communication; block the proactive use of government to diagnose and solve problems; evade government accountability; and thereby fail to sufficiently prepare for urgent challenges and impending crises."

The report is a wide-ranging scientific synthesis by a panel of leading scientists and experts, and illustrates that climate disruption is likely to cause a wide range of damaging impacts on the United States. The report indicates these impacts include the stressing of water resources, which will amplify regional droughts and reduce water supply dependent on western mountain snow-pack. Other findings include:

   o Coastal settlements, infrastructure, and ecosystems will be at increasing risk from sea-level rise and more intense hurricanes and storm surges.
   o Threats to human health related to heat waves, poor air quality, and diseases carried by insects will increase.
   o Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged. Some changes, including species extinctions, will be irreversible.
   o Climate disruption will add to the stresses of population growth and overuse of resources. A rapid rate of change will limit the ability of society and natural systems to adapt successfully.

The report underscores the need for strong climate change legislation and underscores the imperative to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The more and sooner emissions are curtailed, the greater the chance of limiting harmful impacts that can’t be successfully managed and adapted to.

"The report shows that the need for strong climate change legislation is about more than clean energy and green jobs," said Piltz.  "It’s about the potentially devastating costs and consequences of inaction. The need to jump-start federal action is urgent and should not be delayed by the daunting challenge of enacting major legislation to establish a cap-and-trade system for reducing emissions. The Obama administration can take important steps right now on its own initiative. This will require White House leadership. The President should talk to the American people about the findings of this new report, about why climate change is an urgent problem, and about the risks of inaction."

"The Obama administration should begin to develop without delay a new national climate change planning and preparedness office specifically designed to put federal expertise and resources to work on pragmatic climate change solutions," Piltz said. "The administration must restore the credibility of the U.S. Global Change Research Program with new leadership and a new focus on research on the consequences of climate change. This would be a major step toward ending the disconnect between science and society, and the dysfunctional relationship between Washington and local communities. It would quickly begin to re-establish integrity and accountability and undo the damage done by years of delay." #  #  #

Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

Climate Science Watch is a program of the Government Accountability Project.

We also posted this:

US government to release "Global Climate Change Impacts in the US" - Today at 1:30 pm

Posted on Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Today (June 16) the Obama administration will release, at a White House news conference, a report synthesizing the state of scientific knowledge on the likely and potential consequences of global climate disruption for the United States. This is the first climate science report to come out under the Obama administration and the most significant US climate impacts assessment since the first National Assessment issued in 2000. The Bush-Cheney administration essentially suppressed the 2000 National Assessment report and abandoned support for the scientist-stakeholder interaction it had initiated.  The event will be Webcast live at http://www.whitehouse.gov/... at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, and report lead authors Tom Karl of NOAA and Jerry Melillo of the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, will speak.  See White House media advisory.

In addition to the June 16 press conference, the US Global Change Research Program will launch a new website in conjunction with the report:  http://www.globalchange.gov/...

Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States is a wide-ranging synthesis by a panel of leading experts of climate change impacts across the US, intended to inform decisionmakers at all levels of society.  The report is written very accessibly, with copious graphics, and should help to give greater salience to the discussion of US climate change impacts.

The report is also significant in a policy context:  How will the President discuss climate change impacts with the American people in view of this report?  How should the report influence the views of elected officials and the public on the need for strong climate legislation?

The release of this report by the White House is another good sign that the Obama Administration is moving beyond the misrepresentation of scientific intelligence that we saw during the past eight years.  During the Bush-Cheney administration we grew accustomed to climate science reports either being held up at the political level, or misrepresented, or given "stealth" releases designed to limit public attention, and in general ignored and rendered irrelevant to how administration officials discussed the climate change problem.

The report underscores the imperative to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The more and sooner emissions are curtailed, the greater the chance of limiting harmful impacts that can’t be successfully managed and adapted to. It also shows that the need for strong climate change legislation is about more than clean energy and green jobs.  It’s about the costs and consequences of inaction.

The release of this impacts report should kick off an ongoing process of focused scientific research, ongoing national climate change assessment, and communication between scientists and society’s decisionmakers who must plan and prepare for consequences of climate change that may be unavoidable.

Originally posted to Earthfire on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 10:11 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  High friggin' time that Obama does something. (0+ / 0-)

    Health care reform (which is a very important issue):

    --speeches to the AMA
    --weekly Saturday addresses
    --mass emails from Organizing for America (I got one this AM)
    --town hall meetings
    --letters to Congress telling Congress what POTUS wants in the bills he'll sign
    and more I've probably missed.

    .

    Global warming (which is a catastrophe):

    crickets

    Healthy Minds & Bodies, discussing outdoor adventures Tuesdays 5 PM PDT

    by RLMiller on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 10:18:48 AM PDT

    •  Criticality is one factor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MKSinSA

      Time to criticality is another.

      That is, a slow leak that lets all the air out of the capsule is a catastrophe for astronauts, but an overheating engine which is merely a problem might get dealt with first, because the slow leak will take days to kill you while the thruster will burn through the nozzle and become useless in minutes.

      Searching for intelligent life on the Internet. Please post a URL.

      by blue aardvark on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 10:27:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Proper analogy: (0+ / 0-)

        slow leak that's already been going on for days, but just discovered recently (and still being denied by idiots back in Mission Control), and might kill you soon, or might not, had better be made at least as high a priority than that thruster.

        Healthy Minds & Bodies, discussing outdoor adventures Tuesdays 5 PM PDT

        by RLMiller on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 10:32:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Well ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ClaudeB, RunawayRose, cfk

      This is the White House, but President Obama isn't there.

      But, the press conference is strong ... some of the lines that I appreciated.

      Climate Change is not opinions to be debated but facts to be dealt with ...

      Climate Change is not our environmental issue but about us ...

      The decision is in our hands ...

      There are briefing teams hitting the Hill.

  •  Good news (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, MKSinSA, LookingUp

    I admire Obama for trying to keep all the plates in the air. He's got so much going on after the worst possible administration.

    Searching for intelligent life on the Internet. Please post a URL.

    by blue aardvark on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 10:25:12 AM PDT

  •  "Climate Disruption" is a new one for me... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, MKSinSA

    I'm always interested in the evolution of terminology.  It will be nice to have the "definitive" report at last.

  •  Briefing starts soon - www.whitehouse.gov/live (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, cfk

    also check out www.globalchange.gov/usimpacts

  •  Extreme weather damaging the trees (4+ / 0-)

    I live in a wooded area in Kentucky and for the last 3 years we've had extreme weather that's damaged the forest.  First it was drought.  I would guess around 10% of the trees died outright.  Then it was a late freeze in spring, which killed all the leaves.  The freeze wasn't too bad since trees are able to leaf out again.  This spring was the ice storm, which was an eerie, end-of-the-world kind of experience.  Every 20-30 seconds you could hear something breaking and falling to the ground.  Usually a treetop but often an uprooted tree.  Very few were undamaged, maybe as many as 5% are gone.  

    I'm starting to wonder if this woods I have lived most of my life in will be here ten years from now.

  •  "Trends are not destiny..." (0+ / 0-)

    Jane Lubchenco, paraphrased --

    "Trends are not destiny, if we can immediate and sustained action."

    (from Piltz, texting live...)

  •  "Our infrastructure is not built for.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose

    Paraphrased quote from Tom Karl of NOAA:

    "Our infrastructure is not built for the climate we are going to have."

    (Texted live from Piltz at the White House briefing)

  •  another quote - infrastructure at risk (0+ / 0-)

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

    Paraphrased quote from Jerry Melillo of Woods Hole, texted by Piltz in the White House briefing....

  •  Thank you...I hope Obama admin is going to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, MKSinSA, Earthfire

    now get involved in the details of the Waxman bill which is quietly being eroded by industry lobbyists. We need citizen action backing up the Obama admin insistence on caps that mean something in reducing co2 to below the 350 ppm level.

  •  John Holdren - "already affecting things we value (0+ / 0-)

    Climate disruption is "already affecting things we value, and will affect every region" of the country...

    ~ quote from Dr. John Holdren, Science Advisor, OSTP Director

    - from text msg from Piltz at White House briefing now

  •  CORRECTION -last quote from Melillo, not Holdren (0+ / 0-)

    Climate disruption is "already affecting things we value, and will affect every region" of the country...

    ~ quote from Jerry Melillo of Woods Hole...

    - from text msg from Piltz at White House briefing now

  •  Q: what changes were made from april draft? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    billlaurelMD

    A: (Melillo)

    Changes made were in response to public comments or peer reviewers.   There were changes in phraseology, errors in graphics, sharpening of wording -- the overall structure of the report has remained intact from the very beginning.....

  •  Still the Chinese are building (0+ / 0-)

    ..coal-fired plants as if there's no tomorrow.

    "Climate disruption" isn't an American issue, it's a global issue. And still we insist on burning our own home to the ground when there's no-place else to live.

    Crazy fucking homonids.

    When you come to a fork in the road. Take it. - Yogi Berra

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 11:52:32 AM PDT

  •  Briefing Concluded: More quotable quotes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    apsmith

    John Holdren, Science Advisor, OSTP Director:

    In response to a Q....

    (paraphrased)

    "This report is not about a particular policy or piece of legislation; it tell us with greater clarity and persuasiveness that we need to act sooner than later to reduce emissions of heat-trapping pollution, and to learn to adapt to the climate changes we can't avoid. The report is part of a larger process of public and policy education.  We are hoping to change the way people think about various legislative proposals..the bottom line is we need to do much more than we have been doing, after many years of dithering and delay.  "

    (CSW emphasis added.  I might add a comment to this -- "denialism" has played a strong and harmful role in the "dithering and delay" -- I'm reminded of our President's quote, "Delay is no longer an option; denial is no longer an acceptable response" to the climate change problem.   See our November 18 post.  
     

  •  Jane Lubchenco wraps elegantly, persuasively.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    synductive99

    NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco offered the closing remarks, paraphrased:

    "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."

    The bottom line is,

    "Climate change affects you and the things you care about."

    [With this last line and a thank you from John Holdren, the briefing concluded.]

  •  "Tipping Points" vs "Thresholds" what's the diff? (0+ / 0-)

    Assoc. Press reporter Seth Borenstein asked a good question about the rewording of a particular point in the report -- a difference in wording from the April 27 draft still posted on line and the final version released today.

    At issue is the statement, one of 10 "Key Findings" in the Executive Summary:

    1. Tipping points have already been reached and have led to large changes. Changes in climate have pushed ecosystems beyond tipping points. With further climate change, if more tipping points are crossed, additional important services that ecosystems provide to society will be diminished.

    The final version released today reads:

    1. Thresholds will be crossed, leading to large changes in climate and ecosystems. There are a variety of thresholds in the climate system and ecosystems. These thresholds determine, for example, the presence of sea ice and permafrost, and the survival of species, from fish to insect pests, with implications for society. With further climate change, the crossing of additional thresholds is expected.

    Seth B's question was along the lines of:  Why the change in wording?   Doesn't the draft version speak to what has already happened, and the final version speak only to what will happen?   Aren't there thresholds or tipping points we have already crossed?

    Jerry Melillo responded by saying that the essential difference in the terms "tipping point" and "threshold" is the concept of reversibility -- many thresholds are reversible, tipping points not.  Example is salmon exposed to temps above 70 degrees -- morbidity and mortality occurs above the threshold temp, but salmon recouperate when Ts go back down.  However, sea level rise is irreversible, once coastal land is inundated, it's inundated, no going back.  

    Seth followed with wanting to know which thresholds have been crossed that are irreversible and thus represent "tipping points" -- Melillo responded by saying that some tipping points have been reached, the best example is the onset of sea level rise.  

    CSW will be blogging about this issue -- it's good fodder for public policy discussions especially about the lack of "preparedness" in the US for climate impacts.   Some changes will be unavoidable, and of those, some will be irreversible.  The question is, what are we willing to withstand, in exchange for the right to continue emitting heat-trapping gases into our already CO2-heavy atmosphere? At the very least, it's food for thought.  

    We'll be on the lookout for the AP post on this, and other press coverage, stay tuned....  

  •  Good example of good press: bring it home (TX) (0+ / 0-)

    Texas Tech Researcher: Climate Change Impacts where Americans Live and Work 6/16/09

    Texas Tech Univ. News Release
    June 16, 2009

    Lubbock, Texas - Climate change is visible and occurring throughout the U.S., but the choices we make now will determine the severity of its impacts in the future, according to a Texas Tech University climate scientist who served as a lead author on a report released today by the White House.

    Katharine Hayhoe, a research associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, was one of 31 scientists from 13 U.S. government science agencies, major universities and research institutes that produced the study. In 2007, she was invited to serve as the lead author for the Great Plains chapter of the report, which includes Texas.

    "During the next decade or two, we are likely to see an increase of 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit across the United States," Hayhoe said. "How much temperatures rise after that depends primarily on our emissions of heat-trapping gases during the next few decades. Under lower emissions, temperatures could increase 4 to 7.5 degrees. With higher emissions, we can expect 7 to 11 degrees, with the greatest increases in summer."

    Using projections such as these, authors crafted what they call the most comprehensive, plain-language report to date on national climate change. Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States provides the most current information on how climate change is likely to impact key economic sectors and regions of the country. The report spans both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

    The study found that Americans already are being affected by climate change through extreme weather, drought and wildfire and details how the nation’s transportation, agriculture, health, water and energy sectors will be affected in the future. The study also found that the current trend in the emission of greenhouse gas pollution is significantly above the worst-case scenario examined in this report.

    Hayhoe said heat waves, drought and heavy rainfall events are all expected to become more frequent for much of the nation, including in the Great Plains. Warmer temperatures increase evaporation. Combined with increased risk of drought, this raises concerns about the region’s water supply, already overtaxed in many parts of the Great Plains.

    "Water is gold – here in Texas and across the Great Plains," she said. "Much of it comes from the Ogallala Aquifer, which extends from Nebraska all the way down to West Texas. But on the South Plains, we’re already taking the water out faster than it can replenish, and aquifer levels across the region have dropped by more than 150 feet since irrigation began in the 1950s. Farming and ranching are already under pressure from expanding human development and limited water supply. Climate change will exacerbate these and other existing stresses on our natural environment and our society."

    Rising temperatures likely will further stress farms and ranches, shifting the areas where certain crops are grown, and allowing pests currently confined to the southern parts of the region to expand northward. Rising temperatures also will add to the pressure on the regions grasslands and playa lakes – unique habitats the Great Plains region offers to migrating and local birds as well as other wildlife.

    The report emphasizes that the choices we make now will determine the severity of climate change impacts in the future. Earlier reductions in emissions will have a greater effect in reducing climate change than comparable reductions made later.

    Main findings for the United States include:

    ·Heat waves will become more frequent and intense, increasing threats to human health and quality of life. Extreme heat also will affect transportation and energy systems, and crop and livestock production.

    ·Increased heavy downpours will lead to more flooding, waterborne diseases, negative effects on agriculture, and disruptions to energy, water and transportation systems.

    ·Reduced summer runoff and increasing water demands will create greater competition for water supplies in some regions, especially in the West.

    ·Rising water temperatures and ocean acidification threaten coral reefs and the rich ecosystems they support.

    ·Insect infestations and wildfires already are increasing and are projected to increase further in a warming climate.

    ·Local sea-level rise of more than three feet on top of storm surges will increasingly threaten homes and other coastal infrastructure. Coastal flooding will become more frequent and severe, and coastal land will be lost to the rising seas.

    Hayhoe has led climate impact assessments for California, the Northeast, Chicago, and also contributed to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    A product of the interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program and led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the definitive 190-page report is intended to better inform members of the public and policymakers. It is available at www.globalchange.gov/usimpacts.

  •  Jerry Melillo featured in podcast (0+ / 0-)

    Jerry Melillo: ‘Significant’ climate impact in U.S.
    An EarthSky extended Podcast 16 June 09

    Jerry Melillo

    "It’s important for people to understand that climate change is with us. We’re documenting those changes. And those changes are going to have effects on their lives." – Jerry Melillo

    In this EarthSky’s Clear Voices for Science podcast, EarthSky’s Jorge Salazar conducted a sneak preview interview about the Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States report with Jerry Melillo, ecologist at the Marine Biological Laboratory and a lead author of the report.

    "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States" – released in June 2009 by the interagency Global Climate Research Program – summarizes the science and the impacts of climate change on the U.S., now and in the future – on areas including energy, water, agriculture, and health.

    Melillo talked more about specific recommendations to policymakers from the climate report.

    "We’re making a series of recommendations about further research that would give us insights into the climate change problem help to guide our mitigation choices and help to guide our adaptation selections. The primary set of recommendations would include understanding more completely the response of both natural and managed ecosystems to climate change.

    These are complex systems. We have gained a tremendous amount of insight through research over recent years. But there are some fundamental questions, for example questions associated with tipping points in these ecosystems that we don’t necessarily understand well.

    We don’t know where it is in an ecosystem that you could push it over a threshold or exceed a tipping point and change the entire nature of the ecosystem, which would affect its structure, it’s function, and the services that it provides to humans. Services could include the storage of carbon, the cleansing of the air and water, the provision of habitat for organisms, that we use for recreational purposes, such as organisms that we hunt, and this threshold, or tipping point research on whole ecosystems I think is very important. That’s issue number one.

    The second issue is that over the last several decades, it’s become abundantly clear that there’s going to be a tremendous amount of texture to the climate change problem. And different issues are going to arise from different places. As the world gets warmer, some parts of the world get a little wetter, and some parts get drier.

    And so in order to think about both adaptation and mitigation for particular places, and the impacts that might motivate those, we need to have a better idea of how climate change is going to affect regional and sub regional locations so that we can plan the actions that we’d like to take.

    Right now, scientists have tools to basically make projections of climate change at very large scales, several states in area and sometimes entire regions of the country. We have fairly reasonable projection capability. At the local to regional scale, right now, our science is less capable changes in temperature, changes in precipitation patterns, especially in important things like extreme events. And the idea is that we need to dedicate significant effort into doing what scientists refer to as downscaling, taking these large projections of changes in climate patterns and trying to bring them down to the level at which policy makers are making decisions, the state, the county, and the city.

    Melillo and other scientists from the National Academy of Sciences will collect and take their recommendations to Congress in 2010 as part of America’s Climate Choices.

    Our thanks to Jerry Melillo.
    Jerry M. Melillo specializes in understanding the impacts of human activities on the biogeochemistry of ecological systems using a combination of field studies and simulation modeling. Dr. Melillo is the Director of The Ecosystems Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole

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