Eight leading scientific organizations released a document yesterday that calls for the next presidential administration and Congress to better protect the nation from the impacts of severe weather and climate change.
The document, provided to the campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama, outlines specific steps to strengthen science and help national and local decision makers.
The eight prestigious organizations include the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, American Meteorological Society, Weather Coalition, American Geophysical Union, Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, Consortium for Ocean Leadership and Alliance for Earth Observations. Collectively they represent thousands of scientists, technology specialists, public policy analysts and other experts.
“With more than a quarter of the U.S. gross national product (over $2 trillion) sensitive to weather and climate, these events substantially impact our national health, safety, economy, environment, transportation systems and military readiness,” the document states. “All 50 states are impacted by these events, and many of these events will be exacerbated by climate change.”
“Our concern is that our nation is not prepared for severe weather or climate change because of declining budgets and lack of attention to these threats over the past few years,” says UCAR vice president Jack Fellows. “We should improve our ability to respond to severe weather events and prepare for the impacts of climate change that will undoubtedly occur over the next several decades. Decision makers need information on how climate change will affect their local areas, but we are hampered by a lack of funding, observations and computing power to provide information at this local level.”
The document’s five recommendations are:
- Observations. Fully fund the nation’s Earth observing system from satellite and ground-based instruments as recommended by the National Research Council.
- Computing. Greatly increase computing power available for weather and climate research, predictions and related applications.
- Research and Modeling. Support a broad fundamental and applied research program in Earth sciences and related fields to advance present understanding of weather and climate and their impacts on society.
- Societal Relevance. Support education, training and communication efforts to use the observations, models and application tools for the maximum benefit to society.
- Leadership and Management. Implement effective leadership, management and evaluation approaches to ensure these investments are done in the best interest of the nation.
The plan is estimated to cost roughly $9 billion above the current federal investments being planned for 2010–2014. The full transition document, “Advice to the New Administration and Congress: Actions to Make Our Nation Resilient to Severe Weather and Climate Change,” can be found here.
“Given the costs of weather and climate disasters, we believe these are wise and critical investments,” says John Snow, cochair of the Weather Coalition and dean of the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.
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