Thursday, May 20, 2010

National Research Council recommends action on climate change

The National Research Council yesterday released three reports on the evidence regarding climate change, the need for the United States to reduce its greenhouse emissions, and the need to manage and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

A summary of the first report on the evidence on climate change states
A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.
The report calls for increased research to improve our understanding of these links and of the efficacy of possible responses.

The second report recommends
a U.S. policy goal stated in terms of a budget for cumulative greenhouse gas emissions over the period 2012‑2050. With only so much to “spend” during this period, the nation should act now to: (1) take advantage of key near-term opportunities to limit greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., through energy efficiency and low carbon energy sources), and to create new and better emission reduction opportunities for the longer term (e.g., invest in research and development); (2) create a national policy framework within which actors at all levels can work toward a common goal; and (3) develop policy mechanisms durable enough to persist for decades but flexible enough to adapt to new information and understanding.
The third report recognizes that the U.S. will need to cope with some aspects of climate change.
Much of the nation’s experience to date in managing and protecting its people, resources, and infrastructure is based on the historic record of climate variability during a period of relatively stable climate. Adaptation to climate change calls for a new paradigm—one that considers a range of possible future climate conditions and associated impacts, some well outside the realm of past experience.
These findings by a non-partisan panel of the nation's leading scientists underscore the urgency of the Senate taking up the bipartisan energy legislation that was co-authored by Senators Graham, Kerry and Lieberman.

With every day that we delay, the problems grow worse, and the solutions become harder.