Obama unveils major climate change report

MSNBC -- The White House unveiled a sweeping report on the effects of global warming in the United States and documenting the man-made effects on it.

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MSNBC — The White House unveiled a sweeping report detailing the effects of global warming in the United States and documenting the man-made effects on it.

The report, prepared by the federal government’s National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC), won’t break any news. Instead, it seeks to quantify and illustrate the huge effects climate change has had and will have on the country, using interactive graphics to illustrate everything from rising temperatures to the devastating effects on Arctic sea ice in the last five years.

The 1,300-page report comes on the heels of the United Nation’s latest assessment of climate change’s global impact.

The draft illustrates definitively the effects man-made carbon emissions have on the environment, raising familiar warnings about worsening climate change and showing just how high the sea level will rise, just how much hotter the country will get, and just how it will transform the agriculture, energy, and transportation industries.

The report isn’t all doom and gloom: it also highlights various solutions the country can take to reduce human effect on global warming and adapt to the changing climate.

The last national climate assessment was released in 2009. Vicki Arroyo, the executive director of Georgetown Law School’s non-partisan Georgetown Climate Center, said the new report is different partly because it includes chapters on climate change mitigation policy. The fact that climate change’s ground-level effects are more observable than they were five years ago has also made a difference, she said.

“We’re seeing those impacts in every state and locality,” she said. “We’re already seeing a lot of actions to respond to the impact people are seeing on the ground. We’re also seeing more interest in how to curb the emissions that are contributing to climate change in a lot of regions of the country.”

The Obama administration is taking advantage of the report’s release to launch a new PR offensive in favor of policies intended to reduce fossil fuel emissions. President Obama will spend the day discussing climate change with the press and pressing his administration’s environmental strategy. White House officials have spent the past several months delivering increasingly urgent public statements on the necessity of climate change mitigation, but the release of the NCADAC report seems to coincide with a redoubling of their efforts.

Bill McKibben, the president of 350.org, said that President Obama’s environmental record has been pretty spotty thus far, in large part because of the White House’s support for domestic fuel production.

“The president made it through the 2012 campaign without mentioning global warming, so it’s a good sign he’s started talking about it,” said McKibben over email. “Though at this point, given Mother Nature’s ongoing educational efforts, it’s pretty hard to avoid. At the moment, his biggest climate legacy is the US passing Russia and Saudi Arabia in oil and gas production, but if he works very hard, there’s still time for the record to at least even out.”

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