The WaPo has a piece today about the ’08 Democratic candidates and the climate change issue and how it could be a risky issue for the candidates. Among the contentions is that implementing changes could be costly and that could alienate some voters. However, the WaPo notes:
The issue has turned into a Democratic primary litmus test, and many party strategists say it could be a way to win over in the general election suburban Republican women, who tend to place a high priority on environmental issues.
“It’s a huge issue. I’ve been stunned by this,” said Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who found in a May poll that energy independence and global warming were cited as America’s most important domestic challenge by 29 percent of respondents, second only to health care. “I think this is a top-tier voting issue that has crossover appeal,” Greenberg said.
Yesterday, Senators John Kerry and Olympia Snowe introduced the Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007, to change the way federal agencies prioritize, collect and communicate information on climate change science and its impacts.
Kerry and Snowe are updating the Global Change Research Act of 1990 in a response to a series of new reports on climate change, which call for an expedited process to review the impacts of climate change on our communities, local economies and natural resources. Their legislation directly responds to updated global climate information from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as a number of recent reports critical of the Bush Administration’s climate science program.
A study by the National Academy of Sciences found that the Administration’s Climate Change Science Program is not adequately assessing the impacts of climate change (particularly at the regional or local level) or communicating that information to decision-makers and stakeholders. The GAO reported that climate change will have a significant impact on federal land and water resources, but resource managers do not have the guidance or information they need to prepare for those impacts. A recent Federal District court ruling confirmed these reports, citing the Administration’s failure to comply with its mandate to provide regular assessments of the impacts of climate change on critical resources
Senator Kerry said:
“We can’t fight tomorrow’s climate crisis with yesterday’s research. The Bush Administration has failed in its responsibility to conduct research and inform the American people about the impacts of climate change. Our bill will ensure the American people can learn the real story of the climate crisis’s effect on our neighborhoods, businesses and families. I want to thank Senator Snowe for her work on this bill, and for pushing for a response to this crisis that matches the urgent warnings we receive every day.”
Senator Snowe said:
“Since the Global Change Research Act of 1990 was enacted, there have been numerous developments in earth sciences, global observing systems, and satellite and computing technologies that have greatly advanced our country’s ability to understand the effects of global warming. I am pleased to be working with Senator John Kerry on this legislation that is critical to improving upon the success of previous global warming research programs and expanding our nation’s ability to predict, mitigate, and adapt to the global warming crisis.”
Highlights of the Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007
The Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007 amends and strengthens the existing U.S. climate change research and assessment program. The bill would improve the basic research and products that the Federal government develops on climate change and its impacts. It would refocus the emphasis of the program on the need to provide information and products that are of relevance to State, local and nongovernmental decision makers. It would also create a new National Climate Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide climate change forecasting on a regular basis to end-users, and create a permanent network for the delivery of such information.
The Global Change Research Program (GCRP), our nation’s existing climate research and assessment program, was established by the Global Change Research Act of 1990. The overall program has seen its budget steadily decline since FY 2004 at a time when the need to better understand and predict climate change is urgent. Over the past several years, independent reports, including a review by the National Academy of Sciences have highlighted weaknesses and gaps in the current implementation of the GCRP. A Federal District Court found that the current Administration had failed to comply with the statute’s mandate to provide regular assessments of the impacts of climate change on critical resources; no such assessment has been published since October 31, 2000.
The legislation makes important changes to address these weaknesses and to strengthen the mandate to provide assessments. These changes will enable the GCRP to perform critical climate observations and research on climate systems; improve our ability to predict climate impacts at national, regional and local levels; and communicate those impacts in a timely and useful fashion to State and local decision-makers, resource managers, and other stakeholders.
The fact is we just can’t sit around and wait on Climate Change any longer. The U.S. must take the staps to make changes. As Senators Kerry and Snowe clearly get, and as the Democratic candidates also get. We can start now, and we must. As the media works to downplay the issue, it’s evident that the public interest is on change, as Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg stated in the WaPo piece.