I’ve been reading many, many Climate Change reports for the last year, but the new “The National Global Change Research Plan: 2012-2021” by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is the most impressive of all. Not because of its clever language or witty style but because 13 major departments of the US government helped shape our country’s ten-year response to Climate Change and compacted everything into to a very readable 152 pages. These departments understand Climate Change:
Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, United State Agency for International Development.What is even more starting, given the GOP’s reluctance to even admit warming is occurring, is that President Reagan began our country’s response to growing realization that global change, including Climate Change, were going to seriously challenge our country’s ability to prepare for the future.
President Ronald Reagan created—and Congress in 1990 codified—the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP or Program), charged with providing a “comprehensive and integrated United States research program to assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change. (Page xiii)So when the media and the GOP and our present President think Climate Change is ‘too toxic’ to discuss during this year’s presidential elections, I wonder why. There is absolutely no misunderstanding the gravity of the Climate Change issue by the major branches of our government:
The environment is changing rapidly. Increases in world population, accompanied by industrialization and other human activities, are altering the atmosphere, ocean, land, ice cover, ecosystems, and the distribution of species over the planet. Understanding these and other global changes, including climate change, is critical to our Nation’s health and economic vitality. Scientific research is critical to gaining this understanding. Research, along with an array of increasingly sophisticated tools for collecting and analyzing data, can provide essential knowledge to governments, businesses, and communities as they plan for and respond to the myriad manifestations of global change, including sea-level rise and ocean acidification, heat waves and drought, and the severe storms, floods, and forest fires that pose an ever-growing risk to life, property, and agriculture. (Page xiii)This report discusses the ecological and biological systems at risk. It discusses how it knows this. It discusses what human structures and systems are vulnerable to Climate Change. It discusses how our oceans are becoming so acidic as to threaten our food supply in the near future. It discusses the major plans to deal with warming over the next ten years. It discusses how critical it is to get the public engaged in addressing Climate Change.
But to be fully effective, USGCRP must communicate with more than just decision makers; engagement with the public is also essential [emphasis mine]. By integrating communication, education, and engagement into the Program’s core research activities over the next decade, USGCRP and its member agencies will serve as an unprecedentedly important gateway to credible and authoritative global change scientific information. (Page XV.)It discusses how even the Department of Defense understands how crucial this issue is:
“USGCRP-produced information was cited in the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review as a primary source of information on expected climate change that would affect the DoD by shaping its future operating environment, roles, and missions. In addition, assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world by contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments.” (Page 15)I’ve asked this question a hundred times in the last year, and I’ll ask it again, “Why aren’t we talking about Climate Change during this presidential election year?
Why the big secret? Why would the media, or anybody for that matter, want the American public to elect a president who wasn’t ready to lead all his major departments on adapting and mitigating the changes coming due to Climate Change?
The most fascinating part of Climate Change is reconciling in one’s mind the level of awareness that our government has on the consequences coming and how little of that information has percolated through our economics, local government, politics, media, and our everyday lives.