The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Elliott Negin,Media Director,

National Climate Assessment Moves Through Scientific Process to Diagnose US Climate Change Ills

Statement by Rachel Licker, Senior Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists


The first public draft of the highly anticipated 4th National Climate Assessment (NCA), was released for public comment today. The NCA--a quadrennial report mandated by Congress in 1990--is developed by the U.S. Global Change Research Program to help the nation "understand, assess, predict and respond to" climate change. The NCA summarizes the best-available science on observed and projected climate changes, as well as its impacts on human health, regions of the country and tribal communities.

The final version of the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR)--billed as Volume 1 of the NCA, which offers up the latest global climate change science--was also released today. (To read about the CSSR's most important findings on accelerating sea level rise, please see climate scientist Kristy Dahl's blog.
Below is a statement by Rachel Licker, senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
"The draft NCA highlights the significant impacts climate change is already having around the country. Those impacts, including on our health and economy, will likely worsen unless we take strong steps to limit global warming emissions, and adequately prepare and protect communities.
"As with the earlier installments of the NCA, the latest report is making its way through rigorous scientific review that ensures a strong, accurate product and complete transparency. Before the report can be finalized in 2018, it will be reviewed by hundreds of independent scientists spanning disciplines and fields of expertise, including those from the National Academy of Sciences. It will also incorporate public comments received, which will likely total into the thousands.
"The assessment is like a doctor's report that evaluates a patient's vital signs and uses that information to diagnose a medical condition. In this case the medical condition is climate change and the symptoms are rising temperatures, higher sea levels and more extreme weather events. Experience tells us, and the Climate Science Special Report confirms, the United States is experiencing recurring heat waves, heavy rainfalls, more intense wildfires, and greater flooding from rising seas.
"The Climate Science Special Report also reaffirms that humanity's emissions of heat-trapping gasses are the primary driver of the recent rise in global temperatures. It finds that with significant reductions in emissions, global temperature rise could be limited to less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels, consistent with the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.
"Unlike a physician, the climate assessment stops short of offering up a specific prescription or treatment plan. Instead, the American public must hold legislators and policy-makers accountable for taking action commensurate with the problem."

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.