A US government advisory group on climate change scrapped by Donald Trump has convened independently to call for better adaptation to floods, wildfires and other threats that are increasingly affecting American communities.
The Trump administration dissolved in August 2017 the advisory committee for sustainable climate assessment at the national level, which numbered 15 people. The group, formed under the chairmanship of Barack Obama, provided the government with guidance on the basis of the National Climate Assessment, a major compendium of climatology published every four years. years.
Documents released under Freedom of Information Laws subsequently showed that the Trump administration was concerned about the ideological composition of the panel. "There is only one member of the industry and the process of achieving a better balance would take a few years," said George Kelly, then deputy chief of staff of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in a statement. e-mail of June 2017.
Since then, however, the advisory group has been reactivated at the invitation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and has received financial support from Columbia University and the American Meteorological Society. It now has 20 expert members.
The panel is now known as the Science to Climate Action Network (Scan) and has just completed its work for the federal government. He issued a report on Thursday warning that Americans are threatened by the effects of global warming on a confused response to climate science.
"We were worried that the federal government would miss an opportunity to better educate those responsible for preparing what we have already launched," said Richard Moss, Scan member and Visiting Scientist at Columbia University, who previously chaired. the federal panel.
"We are just beginning to see the effects of climate change, the situation will only worsen. But we have not reorganized our daily lives to adapt to the science we have, "he added.
The fourth national climate assessment, released the day after Thanksgiving last year, explained how climate change is already hurting Americans, with sobering conclusions about future impacts. At the time, Trump said that he did not believe in the report.
"The impacts and costs of climate change are already being felt in the United States, and changes in the likelihood or severity of some recent extreme weather events can now be attributed with increasing confidence in the warming caused by climate change. Man, "says the report. of 13 US government agencies, states.
According to the report, the US economy is expected to lose $ 500 billion a year due to crop damage, loss of labor, and weather-related damage. Rainfall and floods have increased in most of the country. Forest fires are estimated to consume more forest fires annually by 2050, according to estimates.
But these warnings have only been taken into account intermittently in decisions made by US cities and states, due to a lack of knowledge, political will or funding. For example, the United States does not have a national sea-level rise plan and the Trump administration has removed the rules governing the construction of infrastructure in areas considered vulnerable to climate change. These circumstances led to random planning which resulted in the repeated loss of some homes as a result of floods or fires.
"We are living in an era of climate change and yet many of our systems, codes and standards have not been caught yet," said Daniel Zarrilli, senior climate advisor in New York, one of the few US cities to count such a person. "Integrating climate science into everyday decisions is not just smart planning, it's an urgent necessity."
In its new report, the Science to Climate Action Network recommends the creation of a "Civil Society-Based Climate Assessment Consortium" that would bring together private and public interests to provide more localized assistance to communities at risk. by floods, forest fires or other hazards.
"Imagine that you were working in a state or county government. You have a flooded road frequently and you have three design options, all of different engineering, "said Moss. "You do not have the ability to know which is the best option to avoid flooding, you simply know what is more expensive.
"Climate problems are not raised in communities. They may be aware that they are vulnerable, but they do not know whether to use, for example, wetlands or a flood wall to stop flooding. We need to define best practices and guide people on how to apply them locally.
"It's extremely urgent. Each passing year means that more people are losing all the floods and fires, including the lives of their loved ones. This must be treated as quickly as possible. "