White House to unveil dire climate warning in new report

WASHINGTON Tue May 6, 2014 1:00am EDT

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WASHINGTON May 6 (Reuters) - The Obama administration will release an updated report on Tuesday showing how climate change touches every part of the country, as the administration seeks to convince the American public on the need for a crackdown on carbon pollution.

Some environmental and public health groups expect the U.S. National Climate Assessment to be a "game changer" in the administration's efforts to address climate change.

The extensive report will update a January 2013 draft, which detailed how consequences of climate change are hitting on several fronts, including health, infrastructure, water supply, agriculture and especially more frequent severe weather.

Since then, the report was reviewed by the National Academies of Sciences and attracted more than 4,000 public comments.

The advisory committee behind the report was established by the U.S. Department of Commerce to integrate federal research on environmental change and its implications for society. It made two earlier assessments, in 2000 and 2009.

Thirteen departments and agencies, from the Agriculture Department to NASA, are part of the committee, which also includes academics, businesses, non-profit organizations and others. More than 240 scientists contributed to the report.

"We expect it will paint a huge amount of practical, usable knowledge that state and local decision-makers can take advantage of as they plan on or for the impacts of climate change and work to make their communities more resilient," John Podesta, an adviser to President Barack Obama, said on Monday.

Podesta said the administration hopes that conveying the warnings contained in the report can help the administration implement the president's Climate Action Plan, which was unveiled in June 2013 and focuses on executive actions Obama can use to rein in polluters.

As part of that outreach Obama will speak with several local and nationally known meteorologists on Tuesday, including the NBC Today Show's Al Roker.

Among the key findings in the draft report expected to be reiterated are that the past decade was the country's warmest on record, and that some extreme weather events, such as prolonged droughts and heavier downpours, have increased.

Extreme weather events and other impacts of climate change also increase the risk of disease transmission and even mental health problems, the 2013 draft said.

Also expected to be featured is an ongoing sea-level rise, which increases the risk of erosion and storm surge damage and raises the stakes for the nearly 5 million Americans who live within four feet of the local high-tide level.

Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center of Georgetown University, said the climate assessment will focus on solutions not just dire warnings.

"You really can't just provide a report that paints this dark picture of all these impacts. You have to couple it with a message of what our government can do about it, what you can do about it and what our communities can do," she said.

The report is expected to be posted in the Federal Register at 8 a.m. ET (1200 GMT) Tuesday. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, Editing by Ros Krasny and Ken Wills)

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