Obama's National Climate Assessment is comprised of state-by-state regional climate model projections, however, as noted by Dr. John Christy in this WSJ article today, regional climate models "have no skill" and are far too unreliable to make such predictions.
"some climate scientists said that regional climate models are too unreliable to make these local projections with any certainty. "When looking at the regional results of climate models, as we have done, we find the models have essentially no skill," said climate scientist John Christy at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, who tracks global temperature trends using satellite sensors. "The models are well off track in demonstrating accuracy in something as basic as the global atmospheric temperature, much less local events," he said. "Yet the report does not bring out in clear view for the public to see how poorly models have performed."
White House Says Urgent Action Needed; Report Details Effects in Every State
By ALICIA MUNDY and COLLEEN MCCAIN NELSON THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Updated May 6, 2014 8:40 p.m. ET
A new report from the federal government says changes in the climate are causing harm to Americans and the economy, which has caused billions in damages and will continue to get worse. Alicia Mundy has details. Photo: Getty.
Climate change is creating problems for American citizens coast to coast and costing the economy billions of dollars, as extreme weather brings flooding, droughts and other disasters to every region of the country, a federal advisory panel concluded in a report released Tuesday.
The congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment, produced by more than 300 experts overseen by a panel of 60 scientists, pins much of the increase in climate change on human behavior. The report says, however, that it isn't too late to implement policies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, and calls on governments at all levels to find ways to lower carbon emissions, particularly from energy production.
The climate-change report notes a rise in extreme weather events, such as 2012's superstorm Sandy, shown flooding Mantoloking, N.J. Associated Press
The document, considered the most comprehensive analysis of the effects of climate change on the U.S., was released by the climate panel after a final vote by the authors Tuesday morning. President Barack Obama is promoting it in a series of events this week that call for action to combat the trend, starting with interviews on Tuesday with television meteorologists.
"This national climate assessment is the loudest and clearest alarm bell to date signaling the need to take urgent action," said John Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology, during a press call on the report.
Authors of the report, by the Federal National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee, said that since the last climate assessment was released in 2009, newer scientific approaches have emerged that have allowed them to improve data collection. The weather service's latest monitoring satellites can track ice sheets melting, and scientists have newer information on soil moisture, an extensive amount of new climate modeling and methodology, and a greater ability to slice the data by geographic region, a White House official said.
The new assessment is based in part on a compilation of thousands of pages of peer-reviewed climate science published over several years, with an analysis of many overlapping scientific reports that allow readers to see specific regional effects and the impact on certain sectors.
"This is an entirely new assessment that accounts for all of the observations, scientific analyses and the latest results from models of the physics, chemistry, and biology affecting the Earth's climate," said one of the lead authors, Donald Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Illinois. The assessment, he said, shows how further shifts in each area could hurt sectors of the economy such as transportation or force local populations to move.
The Obama Administration, Tuesday, released a study outlining what it saw as the negative effects of climate change on a wide range of economic and social sectors in America. Jerry Seib discusses the political impact of the report.
The report highlights problems at the community level, detailing the effects from rapidly receding ice in Alaska, to wildfires in the West, to heat waves and coastal flooding in the Northeast. Rising seas in the South put major cities such as Miami at risk, it said. It noted an increase in extreme weather events such as superstorm Sandy, which destroyed much of northern New Jersey's beaches in 2012, and heat waves in the Midwest the same year.
"Every American will find things that matter to them in this report," Mr. Wuebbles said.
The emphasis on local events was a clear attempt to bring home the issue of climate change to Americans at a time when polls show it isn't a priority for them. But some experts question that connection, saying it is a tenuous proposition to connect a localized disaster to a global trend.
To predict local impacts of climate change, the researchers combined and averaged several different kinds of physical and statistical computer models for the report. Every computer climate simulation has its shortcomings, experts say, but taken together they can provide a plausible range of possibilities.[a false assumption]
Even so, some climate scientists said that regional climate models are too unreliable to make these local projections with any certainty. "When looking at the regional results of climate models, as we have done, we find the models have essentially no skill," said climate scientist John Christy at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, who tracks global temperature trends using satellite sensors. "The models are well off track in demonstrating accuracy in something as basic as the global atmospheric temperature, much less local events," he said. "Yet the report does not bring out in clear view for the public to see how poorly models have performed."
Some conservatives, even if they don't deny the existence of climate change, feel the White House's emphasis is wrongheaded and will be used as a justification for regulations that will impose new costs on businesses. In the Senate, Republicans took to the floor to criticize the administration.
"I'm sure he'll get loud cheers from liberal elites—from the kind of people who leave a giant carbon footprint and then lecture everybody else about low-flow toilets," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to respond to the GOP leader's jab but said that denying science is "foolhardy."
"I understand that there is an inclination upon some to doubt the science, despite the overwhelming evidence and the overwhelming percentage, in the 97% range, of scientists who study this issue who agree that climate change is real and that it is the result of human activity," he said.
What is the future of beef in America? According to the National Climate Assessment, it could be pretty grim. Temperature increases could have a significant impact on beef production and prices.
Several authors said the strong warnings in the assessment weren't presented to scare people, but to convey the importance of preparation and mitigation in, for example, U.S. ports.
The authors "show the urgency of climate-change issues in major cities and small towns across the country," said Daniel J. Weiss, senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress. He said the report is too specific about effects such as droughts, eroding shorelines and flooding to be ignored.
The national climate assessment was mandated by Congress in 1990 as a quadrennial review. Before the 2009 report, there was only one other, in 2000.
While the report doesn't offer specific policies, it does suggest a need for urgency. And it bolsters tough air and water pollution limits promoted by Mr. Obama, administration officials said. Its release could help buffer backlash from new regulations restricting carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, scheduled to be unveiled in the beginning of June.