Back in May the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research hosted a National Climate Adaptation Summit that brought together roughly 150 people representing the US science, business and policy communities for a three-day conversation about coping with the impacts of global warming. On Wednesday, summit representatives provided the White House with a summary document (available here) laying out a series of recommendations as the administration seeks to craft a national adaptation strategy.
The gist is that the United States needs to integrate federal climate programmes, collect and disseminate data and facilitate coordination with both regional governments and the private sector. The report recommends boosting funding for research into climate impacts and creating a federal “portal” for climate data as well as a clearinghouse for information about adaptation programmes underway at all levels of government and industry.
“We are all going to have to adapt adaptively, and therefore we are going to have to learn from each other,” said Rosina Bierbaum, dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.
President Barack Obama’s chief science adviser, John Holdren, graciously accepted the report while making it crystal clear that embracing adaptation does not mean neglecting mitigation. “We only have three choices: adaptation, mitigation and suffering, and we are going to need a lot of the first two in order to avoid a lot of the third,” Holdren said. “Anybody who thinks there are alternatives is smoking dope.”
The adaptation report aligns with ongoing efforts by a separate climate adaptation task force appointed by the White House; that group expects to release its report in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is already shifting its efforts to coordinate data through its Climate Service; earlier this month, the agency appointed six new directors to coordinate regional efforts.
Map: Relative sea level changes on U.S. coastlines, 1958 to 2008. (Image courtesy Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, U.S. Global Change Research Program.)