Help with the Headlines: National Climate Assessment

This past November, the White House made public the second volume of the National Climate Assessment. Released every four years as mandated by law, the lengthy report “assesses the science of climate change and variability and its impacts across the United States, now and throughout this century” and is the work of 13 federal agencies led by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  

At over 1,000 pages, it’s not a quick, easily-distilled read, though in summary there’s no way to sugarcoat the report’s sobering conclusions. According to the authors, not only are the impacts of climate change “already being felt in communities and regions across the country,” but numerous facets of American life, including its public health, economy, infrastructure and ecosystems will be adversely affected unless prompt steps are taken to mitigate it. Couple this with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on climate change (Global Warming of 1.5 ºC) released in October, and you have some of the most unequivocal evidence yet that human activities are the primary reason for our current unprecedented pace of climate change.

As dire as these assessments are, there are numerous steps local and state governments are taking to address climate change and its effects. Here in Skokie, for example, we have the Skokie Sustainable Environmental Advisory Commission as well as The Skokie Environmental Sustainability Plan which aspires to create a more sustainable community. And Chicago, our big city neighbor, has one of the most ambitious blueprints for confronting climate change of any major city in the U.S. All of which is to say, in the words of Brenda Ekwurzel, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, it’s “absolutely not too late to take action.”