In order to help educate the American people, the Obama administration just launched a new site, data.gov/climate, devoted to providing data and facts about climate change.
The site is designed to help people “find data related to climate change that can help inform and prepare America’s communities, businesses and citizens.” The initial phase contains data and resources about coastal flooding, sea level rise and their impacts. “Over time, you will be able to find additional data and tools relevant to other important climate-related impacts, including risks to human health, the food supply, and energy infrastructure,” the site states.
The site, launched with “leadership” from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA, was unveiled on Wednesday, March 19, when Obama administration officials met to talk about efforts by both the private sector and government to prepare for climate change impacts. A few weeks earlier, on March 4, Obama unveiled his 2015 budget request which asks for $1 billion for a resilience fund to mitigate against climate change impacts.
The New York Times points out that for now the site will be a “clearinghouse for climate science data” from certain government agencies, and will not benefit “average users.” “Instead, NASA and the NOAA will call on researchers and private companies to create software simulations illustrating the impact of sea level rise,” the article stated.
The Obama administration appears to be taking climate change seriously. During President Obama’s State of the Union Address in January, he said that “climate change is a fact.” In February, Obama visited a farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley, the front lines of the three-year drought plaguing the Golden State. During his speech there, he linked the drought and climate change. “We have to be clear. A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, are potentially going to be costlier and they’re going to be harsher,” Obama said.
The site comes at a time when the American people are feeling the impacts, from floods to droughts, of a changing climate. It also comes at a time when most Americans don’t think climate change is a priority. A January Pew Research Center poll found that Americans ranked “dealing with global warming” No. 19 in a list of 20 top policy priorities for the President and Congress. However, most Americans do believe that climate change is occurring. An October 2013 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 67 percent of Americans think there is solid evidence that climate change is occurring. Among those who think there is solid evidence, 44 percent think it is caused mostly by human activity. A 2006 survey found that 77 percent thought there was solid evidence that climate change occurring. Clearly, more education is needed about climate change and its impacts.
Image credit: Kim Seng