White House set to lay out imminent climate risks
May 5th, 2014
04:00 PM ET
8 years ago

White House set to lay out imminent climate risks

Updated 7:49 p.m. ET, 5/5/2014

Washington (CNN) – Flooded rail lines. Plagues of pests and herbicide-resistant weeds. A rash of wildfires.

Those are some of the alarming predictions in an early draft of a White House climate change report set for release on Tuesday, part of President Barack Obama's broader second-term effort to help the nation prepare for the effects of warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, and more erratic weather.

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"Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present," a 2013 draft of the National Climate Assessment claimed, adding that since 2009 evidence for man-made climate change has "strengthened considerably."

"Americans are noticing changes all around them," the draft from 2013 said. "Summers are longer and hotter... Rain comes in heavier downpours."

That report, which has been open for comments and review since its debut last year, was prepared by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. It doesn't necessarily reflect exactly what the White House will present, but Obama and his administration have long said that effects of climate change are already affecting communities.

The President will help mark the release of the updated National Climate Assessment by speaking with meteorologists about the report's findings, which his counselor John Podesta said Monday would offer "a huge amount of practical, usable knowledge" for communities as they cope with risks like longer dry spells and increased risk for wildfires.

"It begins to take the climate discussion down to a regional level, so it breaks the country apart, anticipates what's going to happen in each region," Podesta said. "That kind of information will help communities plan."

The draft report, hundreds of pages long, breaks the country down by region and identifies specific threats should climate change continue.

In the densely populated Northeast, flooded rail lines are named as a concern if sea levels rise. The plains could suffer pest and weed infestations should winters last longer. And more wildfires in the West could threaten agriculture and residential communities.

The week-long focus on climate change continues Wednesday when the White House convenes a summit focused on green building tactics. Later in the week, Obama will announce new solar power initiatives, Podesta said.

Obama has pledged to renew his efforts on climate change during his second term, including using executive actions that bypass Congress. He's introduced new regulations on truck emissions and created so-called "climate hubs" that help businesses prepare for the effects of climate change.

Obama and his administration are also approaching a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Environmental groups argue the project would contribute to climate change since it wouldn't help reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuels.

Podesta, who advocated against approving the pipeline before he joined the Obama administration last year, has recused himself from internal discussions on the matter. He similarly declined to answer questions about the project on Tuesday.

But Podesta did say that the recent energy boom in the United States – powered by increased extractions of oil and natural gas through a controversial process known as "fracking" – could serve to reduce American dependence on fossil fuels.

"We think it's a practical and viable way to reduce emissions in the short run," Podesta said. "Obviously, there are environmental issues around the production of gas and oil. But, again, in the administration's view, those can be - those can be dealt with through the proper application of the best practices to produce that oil and gas."

Filed under: climate change • White House
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Silence DoGood

    Thanks Mr.President. Keep us moving forward with real science. The other technically aware countries around the world probably think we are pretty backwards with climate change neigh-sayers and creationists and anti-vaccine groups.

    May 5, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    “It begins to take the climate discussion down to a regional level, so it breaks the country apart, anticipates what's going to happen in each region,”
    You don't have to be a climate scientists to understand this stuff. Everything from hurricanes, noreasters, tornadoes, wildfires, drought, rising oceans are all the indicators of climate change. What's so hard for the right wingers to understand? Even climate change denier Rep. Grimm has come to the conclusion that climate change is real.

    May 5, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. smith

    Oh no, more of this fodder. Over the last hundred years the planet`s temp. has risen 1 degree. Cows are worse for enviroment than cars. No matter what Al Gore says Florida has not been swallowed by the ocean as he predicted.

    May 5, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  4. bobo

    WE NEED JOBS.... well paying good jobs! Fix the economy first... Obama should have done that first instead of pushing through the ACA!

    May 5, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. bobo

    There is no Man-made climate change....... we had Ice Ages before.... we had the medieval warm period and the little ice age..... Climate change to this Administration and most Libs is about Control!

    May 5, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. rla

    Way to go Obama– Find a lie and support it without flinching... Wish he actually had a science background and perhaps (maybe) he would figure iut the concept that there is nothing like settled science nor does he consider the consequences of his actions (opps that's the politatian but then again that in only what he is!
    Energy BOOM happened right in front of him and he had no concept it was happening until he got the concept that he could make political hay ??? What a community organizer!!

    May 5, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  7. Lizzie

    More fuel efficient cars, less driving, so now this adminstration wants ALL freeways to become toll roads, leave it to politicians they can find money or new taxes and stick it to working people.
    Al Gore told everyone that Cali will be disappearing into the ocean, so he bought ocean front property.

    May 5, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |