Posted on August 17, 2011 by Joseph Manko – Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox, LLP
While climate change skeptics continue to dispute the linkage between climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, others throughout the scientific community continue to report on problems being caused by climate change and to call for a serious assessment of what can be done to adapt to these changes in climate. The following are a few examples of recent reports on climate change impacts and calls for adaptation to those impacts.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concludes that the temperature in the first decade of the 21st century (2000-2010), averages 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit above that of the 1970s. Without including the record high temperatures in the first half of 2011, satellite data indicate that the earth’s groundwater is being depleted. In addition, a report by the PEW Center on Global Climate Change concludes that climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events (e.g., wildfires in the southwest, flooding in North Dakota and myriad tornadoes, heat waves, and heavy precipitation) and calls for the entire community to join with the scientific community not only to determine the resultant damage and debate its causes, but also to decide how best to respond by means of adaptation.
Areas of adaptation include reducing our reliance on fossil fuel and our demand for electricity while increasing green practices (to further reduce the emission of greenhouse gases). Those leading the “adaptation discussion” also call for efforts to make certain that our infrastructure is protected from climate change by focusing on its repair, restoration, and — in some instances — relocation.
Accomplishing these adaptive practices in “normal times” would be tough. It is even more difficult to make progress, though, in the height of a recession, with legislators at both the federal and state level facing persistent gridlock and reduced budgets for infrastructure improvements (e.g., EPA’s Federal Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds).