Monday, December 04, 2017

Does Climate Change matter to you?

As climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe points out in this recent webinar by The Security and Sustainability Forum (SSF)*, most people don’t have a problem with the science behind Climate Change. That science is the same science we use every day in the products we use and way we understand the workings of our world.

Astonishingly, the reason most people don’t think global warming** matters to them is because they don’t think it will harm them personally. See: “Estimated % of adults who think global warming will harm them personally 2016“ graph from Yale Climate Opinion Maps – U.S. 2016.

But it does, and it will. Hayhoe says in the webinar “We care about a changing climate because it exacerbates the risks we already face today.”

One of the ways we know that Climate Change is already happening here in the USA is through the official National Climate Assessment (NCA). Since 1990, our country has been required by law to provide this information about our changing climate to the public every four years. (I know, the math doesn’t work out here, we’ve been tardy sometimes.)

We are now coming up on the fourth iteration of this report: Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). Part I of the NCA4 (Climate Science Special Report) was recently released to the public. The Trump administration released this part to the media and the public, but presumably didn’t read it themselves. (Or, the Trump administration thinks just quietly letting the NCA process continue, while continually putting on a fireworks show at the White House, is the best strategy for tamping down public attention on this crisis that Trump doesn’t believe in.)   

Read NCA4 Vol. I

This quip by The Guardian admonishes the Trump administration for not acting on our nation’s own information about how Climate Change is affecting US, while at the same time noting that the world has access to this important document. The world must be dumbfounded by the spectacular divide that exists between our present federal government and 13 of the agencies it comprises.  

American leaders should read their official climate science report The United States Global Change Research Program report paints a bleak picture of the consequences of climate denial The United States Global Change Research Program recently released a report on the science of climate change and its causes. The report is available for anyone to read; it was prepared by top scientists, and it gives an overview of the most up to date science.  If you want to understand climate change and a single document that summarizes what we know, this is your chance. This report is complete, readily understandable, and accessible. It discusses what we know, how we know it, how confident we are, and how likely certain events are to happen if we continue on our business-as-usual path.  To summarize, our Earth has warmed nearly 2°F (1°C) since the beginning of the 20th century. Today’s Earth is the warmest it has ever been in the history of modern civilization. (November 27, 2017) The Guardian 

Comment on NCA4 Vol. II

The NCA4 Vol. II has not been released yet, but you can read and comment on the draft.

“NCA4 Vol. II is a technical, scientific assessment of climate change impacts, risks, and adaptation across the United States. The assessment uses a risk-based framework in placing a strong emphasis on regional information, while also evaluating climate change impacts, risks, and adaptation on 17 national-level topics. Case studies are used to provide additional context and showcase community success stories. Like all USGCRP assessments, NCA4 Vol. II does not evaluate policy or make policy recommendations.” Call for Public Comment on the Draft Fourth National Climate Assessment (Vol. II)

To read and comment on NCA4 Vol. II go here; on the left side-bar click on “create new account”, create a user name, your own password, accept the conditions for commenting on the draft, then you can gain access to the draft. You can make comments on each section of the draft (until January 8, 2018) online. Easy-peasy.

Please consider (as a group, or as an individual) reading the NCA4 Vol. II draft and commenting. Those of us who do understand that Climate Change “exacerbates the risks we already face today” need to bring that message home to everyone. That’s what volume two does: “… placing a strong emphasis on regional information”.

The journey to reach the public on the science behind this crisis has been long and tortuous. We have written, educated, demonstrated, and some have even been jailed in an attempt to instill in the public a sense of urgency. Time to act on a scale and time frame that will matter is running out.

Sadly, we are finding that science isn’t enough to compel the public to act.  We need to bring our knowledge and concerns of a changing climate to where the public lives. Reading and making comment on how your region is and will be affected by Climate Change in the NCA4 II is another important step towards communicating this crisis effectively.

The NCA is an incredibly detailed and expert series of documents by our government about Climate Change. Consider doing everything you can to demonstrate that this scientific legacy of ours reflects our country’s position on Climate Change. It really does matter to us. 

Time passes. 

* “The Security and Sustainability Forum (SSF) convenes global experts to address the impacts to society from climate and other disruptions to natural systems.  Our main products are free webinars on energy, food and water security, public health, urban resilience, economic vitality, infrastructure, governance and other impacts that must be solved in meeting climate security challenges.”


** Sometimes it looks as though I am using ‘Climate Change’ and ‘global warming’ interchangeably but hopefully I’m not. This from NOAA: “Global warming refers only to the Earth’s rising surface temperature, while climate change includes warming and the “side effects” of warming—like melting glaciers, heavier rainstorms, or more frequent drought. Said another way, global warming is one symptom of the much larger problem of human-caused climate change.” (NOAA Climate.gov

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