Addressing the nation from the Rose Garden last Friday, President Obama reminded us that the threats and impacts of climate change are both real and imminent. “We know that climate change poses a threat to our way of life,” the President said. “In fact we’re already seeing some of the profound and costly impacts.”
We face these threats not only on a global level but also in our own backyards—in the small communities, farmlands, wilderness areas, and large urban centers that constitute the American landscape. From the coast of Rhode Island to the canyons of Arizona, we find ourselves forced to consider new questions—how do we secure our homes against the threat of increasingly intense storms? Which crops will flourish with higher temperatures and more unpredictable growing conditions? Can we afford to turn on the tap?
Understanding the science behind climate change and mitigating its effects are critical for avoiding unmanageable scenarios in the future. But equally important is the need to manage the unavoidable—to adapt to the “profound and costly impacts” that the President highlighted, whether they are already occurring or are awaiting us just around the corner.
Towards that end, scientists, city planners, academics, advocates, and environmentalists, as well as Federal, state, and local officials and innovative industry leaders, are working hard to better understand the efficacy and impacts of various adaptation strategies. But more research, greater communication, and increased access to accurate information and critical tools are needed.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 25th, experts from these sectors will converge on Washington, D.C., from every corner of America for the three-day National Climate Adaptation Summit. Together, guided by the inspired comments of leaders such as Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, participants will help build a Federal framework through which options for managing the unavoidable effects of climate change can be analyzed.
You too can be a part of this critical process. Visit the National Climate Adaptation Summit’s official website at http://www.joss.ucar.edu/events/2010/ncas/index.html for more information and tune into the webcast beginning Tuesday morning. Click the “Comments” tab on the webcast player to submit your feedback.
Heed the President’s call and help us shape a healthy and sustainable future for your community, the Nation, and our planet.
Sherburne “Shere” Abbott is Associate Director for Environment in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy