Jamie Rappaport Clark, President & CEO
This latest IPCC report on climate change is another layer of practically unassailable evidence that global warming is human-caused and affecting our earth as we speak. It reinforces the stance nearly all climate experts have taken: that climate change is real and its impacts are global in scope.
Our warming world is our biggest problem because it magnifies all other problems. Economic struggles? Check– the global economy has already lost billions in repairs and restoration after warming-enhanced extreme weather events. Poverty? Check– the impacts of climate change are felt most by our most vulnerable populations. Food shortages? Check– extreme floods and droughts exacerbated by our warming atmosphere have wiped out crops across the globe.
The United States can and should be a leader in the fight against climate change. While the Obama administration has made a sustained effort in this regard and the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent emissions proposal is courageous and long overdue,- more still needs to be done. Before we can lead globally, we need to fully address climate change on our own soil. What does that mean?
It means federal management plans for land and wildlife must include solid, detailed climate adaptation measures. It means we need to use habitat restoration as part of our strategy to reduce the impacts of extreme weather – an important strategy to remember as we approach the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. It means regulating greenhouse gas emissions and making sure that the federal government’s regulatory power isn’t compromised or weakened (through harmful Congressional measures like the recently proposed “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act”).
Finally, it means sustained federal funding and encouraging renewable energy projects that protect the environment.
Much of this report should come as no surprise; after all, we have been told by scientists time and time again that climate change is real; humans have set climate change in motion; and it’s going to require serious and ongoing effort to reduce its effects. The takeaway is clearer than ever: we must act before it’s too late.
Originally published in the National Journal