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Horowitz: National Climate Assessment Highlights Need for Action

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

 

The Trump Administration’s own National Climate Assessment serves as a sharp rebuke to its ill-advised policy of rolling back federal actions and regulations designed to curb climate change. Released by the White House over the holiday weekend in a transparent effort to bury its findings, this report spells out in detail the prohibitively high costs to our health, economy, environment and communities of failing to act to reduce the production of greenhouse gases and as a result bringing about the worst impacts of global warming.

As the report prepared by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in coordination with 12 other federal agencies, including EPA, The Defense Department and NASA, states, “The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.”

The report plainly states that “changes in the likelihood or severity of some recent extreme weather events can now be attributed with increasingly higher confidence to human-caused warming.”

It also predicts that--- if not limited through stepped-up action-- this warming will do major economic damage:  With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century—more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.”

The National Climate Assessment reaches similar conclusions to a recently released report from an international panel of distinguished scientists convened by the United Nations, which predicted that without greatly accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gases there is a strong risk that some of the more dire consequences of climate change could result as early as 2040.

Unfortunately, instead of stepping up action as the science calls for, President Trump continues his full retreat on the issue of climate change, refusing to veer from his damaging head in the sand approach.   A tweet he sent out just before the report was released conveys his willful ignorance: "Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS - Whatever happened to Global Warming?”  When asked about the National Climate Assessment, a White House spokesperson dismissed it as containing ‘extreme scenarios.”

 State and local elected leaders as well as businesses and foundations who understand the sound factual basis of the science, however, have stepped into the vacuum created by the Trump Administration. Taken together, the actions of thousands of local leaders in their own communities and states may well enable the United States to meet our Paris commitment as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg often asserts, ‘no matter what Washington does.”

But national leadership still counts to produce even better results here at home.  Even more damaging, with the Trump Administration’s declared intent to withdraw from the Global Climate Change Agreement reached in Paris, we have abandoned the global leadership that helped gain meaningful commitments from China, India, Brazil, and other large carbon emitters.

There is still time for us to limit global temperature increases and avoid the worst consequences of climate change, according to the National Climate Assessment. But we don’t have much time to waste.  Since there is little or no chance, President Trump will change course, it is essential that states, local governments, and businesses do even more. And that the rest of us build the political will from the bottom up for a comprehensive and aggressive approach that restores our needed global leadership under our next president.

 

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island

 

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