What Has the Government's Climate Program Achieved?

Today's post is by Bill Chameides, Ph.D., science adviser to Environmental Defense and member of the National Academy of Sciences.

In 2002, the Bush Administration set up the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP). Yesterday, an independent panel released a report through the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) evaluating how that program has done. The headline in the New York Times sums it up: "Panel Faults Emphasis of U.S. Climate Program."

When I look at the work of the CCSP over the last five years, here's what stands out.

CCSP has looked at a number of issues and arrived at some important conclusions. Most notably, it debunked a popular argument among climate skeptics. For years, skeptics pointed to the lack of a trend in upper atmospheric temperatures as evidence that global warming was not due to greenhouse gases. The CCSP report found that the apparent lack of a trend was due to an error in the data analysis. When the error was corrected, the inconsistency disappeared.

Nevertheless, many of us have been disappointed with how the CCSP has been way behind schedule in producing the reports they were tasked to produce. More importantly, the scope of the issues the CCSP was asked to address was too narrow, and not adequately focused on what is required to mitigate and adapt to global warming.

The NAS report echoes that sentiment.

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3 Comments

  1. NHNative1957
    Posted September 15, 2007 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Enough of this administration. Let's look forward. This year, climate change has hit home in New Hampshire.

    All of the candidates running for president have been invited to speak at a major global warming conference in Manchester October 12 and 13.

    From what I've been told its open to Rs and Ds – and each candidate is afforded solo stage time to communicate his (her) priorities on energy and global warming.

    NH has communicated global warming as a priority in many ways this past year, right under the noses of the candidates. Here are the TOP TEN REASONS why every candidate should show up:

    1.
    A statewide poll showed 70% of likely Republican primary voters feel global warming is a serious threat and needs to be addressed (and most feel it is man-induced), while almost 90% of likely D primary voters feel the same way
    2.
    164 out of 177 towns passed a town meeting resolution calling on the next president to require national greenhouse gas reductions in ways that protect the economy (of the 164 towns, a majority performed republican in 2004)
    3.
    The governor & executive council signed a commendation thanking the 300 volunteers who made the resolution a statewide referendum.
    4.
    More than 40 civic associations and 9 newspapers endorsed the resolution (which has been endorsed now by Richardson, Dodd and McCain)
    5.
    Researchers in the science and economic disciplines came together for the first time and illustrated how inextricably linked local NH economies are to cold winters, and how northern communities will suffer from slushy winters.
    6.
    College students marched from Nashua to Concord and others climbed to the tops of the Presidentials to make their point and send a message that global warming action must be a priority for the next president.
    7.
    A spring conference on global warming and the NH forest economy drew a standing room only crowd of more than 300
    8.
    Thanks to hundreds of civic-minded volunteers, more than 50 local energy committees have emerged from the results of the town meeting resolution. These people are not your every-day branded enviros: they are civic leaders and taxpayers.
    9.
    Candidates are getting lots of questions and are talking about energy and global warming on the stump, and in some ways the retail politicking has helped candidates test their messages and reform a few policy directions. That said, the conference is the only chance between now and the primaries for candidates to really showcase their climate change and energy action plans with people for whom this is a priority (what people?– see ## 1-8)
    10.
    The upcoming conference comes at peak foliage season – so get up here and enjoy the season …. while we still can.

  2. Bobby Jones
    Posted September 15, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Today is a pivotal time for our world. We can choose to ignore what the scientific community are putting before our eyes, even a former Vice Presiden (Mr. Gore, An Inconvient Truth) or we can make even a half hearted effort to understand what were being told and come away with the conclusion – something very very bad is going to happen if we do not change our life styles to the extent the heretofor 'greenhouse emissions' are brought under control (NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES) and keep our planet habital for our children, grand children, and in general the rest of the population. Not too many of the general population of this planet enjoy gain whether we get around via a gas guzzling SUV or a Kentucky Mule, are we going to sit still a let the few destroy this planet for sustance to
    their greed?. I have read every reason one can imagine to blame this on, from animals breaking wind to lightening striking and causeing an occasional forest fire. If you can accept those reason's you are very good at the suspension of something disbelief. I pray God Almighty will interceed on the behalf of those of us that while we may or may not have an acronym behind their name, we know darn good and well green house gas emissions is not due to cow farts, please excuse the word (farts) but to compare it with what the prior commission's 'fact finding' has been I find the word very appropo. God Bless Those Of You Who Continue The Fight And Have The Credentials To Be Listened To, I am just a common, old man – but I CAN READ!

  3. Posted September 16, 2007 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    In reading the above today it occurred to me some of it could be considered flip and off color and hence meaningless. Those old enough to remember post WWII Europe, France, England will remember their infrastructure was all but destroyed. NO MORE!. They are employing a much more intelligent way of surface transport and have cooked up a brew of HSRT (high speed rail transport) with automobile feeder lines too them, also are way ahead of us on solar and wind and that doesn't even take into effect the biological efforts at making methane from something other than Petroleum Oil. Our ancestors died on foreign soil to free it so all of these things can and have happened. What have we done. NOTHING!!!!

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