Obama has promised to make climate change a priority - now he needs to turn those words to action
In light of the constant news stories about last years drought and crop failure in the US, it comes as little surprise that on January 8, 2013, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed 2012 was the hottest year on record for the continent (whilst it was the wettest year on record in the UK). NOAA also announced that 2012 was the second most expensive year on record for US weather-related disasters that cost more than $1 billion. Most of the country suffered from climate-related extremes, including extensive heat and drought, western wildfires, and destruction from Storm Sandy.
President Obama has committed to a ‘national conversation’ on climate change “with scientists, engineers and elected officials to find out what more can we do to make short-term progress in reducing carbon.” But according to Angela Anderson, the Director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a national conversation is not nearly enough. “The longer we delay reducing emissions, the more climate change we’re going to lock in. The President has promised to make climate change a priority in his second term, but he needs to turn those words into action. The price tag for dealing with unchecked climate change makes the fiscal cliff look like a crack in the sidewalk.”
“Climate change is starting to hit us in our own backyards,” Anderson continued. “As dealing with it becomes more expensive locally, denying it is going to become more expensive politically. The revolt in the House of Representatives over disaster relief for victims of Storm Sandy is a taste of what’s to come if climate policy amounts to little more than cleaning up after disasters.”
While the United States has made significant progress in reducing emissions through laws such as improved fuel efficiency and state renewable electricity standards, it’s falling short of its own emissions reduction goals. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that the world is on track to warm more by the end of the century than the 3.6 degree Fahrenheit reduction global leaders have pledged to achieve by stabilizing the amount of heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere. Despite ongoing high-profile climate change denial in the country, the US National Academy of Sciences has concluded that, “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”
Lorna Howarth is a writer and environmentalist. She is a contributing editor to Resurgence & Ecologist magazine and the founder of a small independent publishing ageny, The Writer Factor www.thewritefactor.co.uk. Contact: Lorna@resurgence.org
image courtesy of www.shutterstock.com