Finally, Some Good News on Climate Change

Recent Policy Developments Are Proving the Importance of United States Leadership

July 29, 2014

Principal / Sustainable Design Leader, NBBJ


It has been a good few weeks for those of us who advocate for climate change action. Although the US Chamber of Commerce, in anticipation of the Obama Administration’s new climate rules, preemptively released a study announcing the $51 billion they calculate that the rules will cost the economy annually, Paul Krugman countered with a delightful editorial putting that number in context — .2% of the economy — and celebrating that climate change can be addressed so cheaply.

On June 2 President Obama announced new EPA rules on coal-fired power plants, and already there are indications that China intends to set a cap on carbon emissions by 2016. Obama’s announcement was hailed as the “most sweeping climate action ever taken by a US president,” admittedly not a high bar. But high or low, this is a truly significant move. US leadership has been missing in action for way too long on climate change, and this immediate news out of China reinforces that our country’s leadership is critical to cohesive and significant global climate action.

For the days when the news is not so exciting and you need to remind yourself of why we work so hard to reduce building energy use, or when you want to understand how climate change will affect a certain place, I suggest clicking over to the National Climate Assessment 2014. Another recent Obama Administration release, this report — available both as a pdf and as an elegant, interactive web resource — is thorough, local, strategic and clear in its messaging. It outlines comprehensive impacts to climate across the United States by sector, issue or region. It makes clear that climate change is not just on its way — it’s here.

My first reaction to the report was visceral — the backdrop of each key page is video footage of a pristine and beautiful place, and it sparked both my craving to experience those places and a sense of urgency to preserve them. Each is a poignant introduction to a great communication tool. The website can be taken in small bites, or you can geek out in as deep a dive as you want. Each section is elegantly presented, with enough citations and links to keep you reading for days — or simply to provide the key messages for the next time you need to explain why reducing energy use is so important.

The work is clear and pressing, and momentum is building. It’s our task to accomplish, and we can find no higher calling than to build a future safe for our children and grandchildren.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

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