Climate change is occurring. It is very likely caused by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities, and poses significant risks for a range of human and natural systems. And these emissions continue to increase, which will result in further change and greater risks.
Along with climate scientists and other experts, and under the auspices of the National Research Council of the National Academies, WE ACT for Environmental Justice served on the Committee for America's Climate Choices and participated in a series of coordinated activities and meetings over a 2-year period, which were designed to advance the US response to climate change. The result is the report titled America's Climate Choices, which makes the case that the environmental, economic, and humanitarian risks posed by climate change indicate a pressing need for substantial action now to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare for adapting to its impacts. The report is in response to a request from Congress for advice on strategies to deal with climate change.
Although there is some uncertainty about future risk, acting now will reduce the risks posed by climate change and the pressure to make larger, more rapid, and potentially more expensive reductions later. Most actions taken to reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts are common sense investments that will offer protection against natural climate variations and extreme events. In addition, crucial investment decisions made now about equipment and infrastructure can "lock in" commitments to greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come. Finally, while it may be possible to scale back or reverse many responses to climate change, it is difficult or impossible to "undo" climate change, once manifested.
Current efforts of local, state, and private-sector actors are important, but not likely to yield progress comparable to what could be achieved with the addition of strong federal policies that establish coherent national goals and incentives, and that promote strong U.S. engagement in international-level response efforts. The inherent complexities and uncertainties of climate change are best met by applying an iterative risk management framework and making efforts to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions; prepare for adapting to impacts; invest in scientific research, technology development, and information systems; and facilitate engagement between scientific and technical experts and the many types of stakeholders making America's climate choices.
, as a special offer to WE ACT supporters, National Academies Press is offering a 25% discount off the list price for the print version of the book. Please enter promotional code FWEACT in the NAP shopping cart to take advantage of the discount.
Thank you for helping us make our communities healthier places to live and work in, for ALL people.
Peggy M. Shepard