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What the State of the Union Left Out

What the State of the Union Left Out

Last week’s State the Union address didn’t have much for climate advocates looking for hope that the President would take head-on the most serious issue facing our planet, not to mention the state of the Union itself.

Despite calls for ramping up clean technologies across economic sectors the President’s remarks didn’t highlight the very real threats climate change is posing to communities across America.

A recently released report from The Resource Innovation Group paints just the type of picture of local impacts that decision-makers need, as well as strategies stakeholders can take now in order to build resiliency into local natural systems to best prepare them for coming climate disruptions.

Focusing on the Lower Willamette region of western Oregon, the report documents anticipated climate-related effects ranging from summer temperature increases (up to 15 degrees!), an 80% decrease of snowpack in the Cascades, and more extreme weather events. These changes are likely to have huge implications for wildlife populations as habitat quality changes and invasive species move in.

The news isn’t good for human habitats either. Reduced water quality and changes in water availability are expected as well as negative effects on public works, communication and transportation infrastructure. Farmers are sure to be affected, and public health officials will face increases in vector and water-borne disease, heat illness and respiratory distress. Then there are the cultural resources at risk, including the hot topic at this year’s State of the Union: salmon.

The report’s recommendations sound pretty familiar to those of us hammering on the climate front here in D.C.: 

-Protect natural areas, including floodplains and wetlands;

-Preserve high quality habitat, promote restoration and expand connectivity for species migration;

Conspicuously absent in the recommendations is cutting down on the carbon pollution that is the root cause of climate change, but I digress.

Of course, identifying expected climate disruptions and planning accordingly isn’t just taking place in Oregon. To facilitate land management agencies and communities outside the Beaver State the National Wildlife Federation in conjunction with federal agencies including NOAA, USGS, Fish & Wildlife Service, the Forest Service and the National Parks Service just released a Guide to Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. This important resource helps dispel the myth that climate change poses too much uncertainty for land managers and community leaders to take action now that builds resiliency against climate disruptions. In fact, it’s mission critical that stakeholders ramp-up these processes now if we are to get out in front of and prepare for these impacts.

But like any issue, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease—especially in these cash-strapped times. So feel free to pass these important documents to your local leaders, from your Senator to your city planner. Let them know that it’s time to get to work building the resiliency of our natural resources so they are best suited to weather the coming climate storm and continue providing us with the many benefits we receive each day. Maybe then next year’s State of the Union address will ring a little louder for climate champs.

Follow JP on Twitter: @twsjp

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Photo Courtesy the US Geological Survey

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31 comments

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7:14AM PST on Feb 8, 2011

Given current political temperatures and leanings, we need to ensure that the volume on our wheel squeaking is set to "high".

6:33AM PST on Feb 8, 2011

thanx

6:32AM PST on Feb 8, 2011

thanx

12:03PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Thanks for the article JP Leous. This is very disappointing to say the least. But at least finally climate change is being recognized, and some starts have been made. If it wasn't for the economy, I think there would be more start ups.

6:36AM PST on Feb 7, 2011

How sad. . ..

10:15AM PST on Feb 6, 2011

It is dissapointing to see a community activist move more and more away from his mission, and the reason he was elected. We need business to be sucessful but they must be regulated. Obama's bowing to the banks and the rich, an ignoring the plight of the average American is a disaster. The only bright side is that when the tide rises along with the poor who will die or be displaced, the summer shore homes of the rich a powerful will be taken by the tide. I hope from thier mountain ski homes the filthy rich will be able to look down on growing seas, and scenes of distruction with the satisfaction that greed brings. We will not face our most critical problems while there is time. Our scientists from around the world have rung the alarm bells. The Secretary General of the United Nations has even abandoned the quest for solution to Global Warming and is moving on to smaller green projects, I guess in the hope that we will come to our senses at some time in the not too distant future. We are all on one planet. So far no one has found a good substitute for this blue green jewel. I don't know if a Lear Jet can be fitted for pontoons so the rich can enjoy escape for a little longer amount of time.

4:35AM PST on Feb 6, 2011

Obama catered to big business, more regulations, talk of global warming, is not popular with the demands that must be made to implement improvement. The country is failing economically, so corps are getting their tax breaks, they are out sourcing, and demanding no regulations. Ultimately we the people will be the victims of the greed that promotes a "look the other way" attitude, and wait and see - the science is overwhelming- but as Gore said - it's an inconvenient truth!

3:52PM PST on Feb 5, 2011

Some say it is a human problem ,some say it is natural and would not only happen anyway but that it happens every few thousand years ,regardless of human activity. There is a lot to suggest it is government propaganda .

8:23AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

OBAMA IS IN THE HOT SEAT....NOT OF HIS CREATION.
EVERYBODY HAS TO DO THERE PART TO REDUCE GLOBAL WARMING, IF IT IS POSSIBLE AT THIS LATE DATE. IT APPEARS THAT WE ARE OVER THE EDGE ALREADY. BUT IT'S NOT BECAUSE OF OBAMA. WE NEED TO KEEP GOING AFTER THE BIG CORPS THAT DON'T CARE AND THERE THUGS!

7:22AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

TY

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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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