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National Climate Assessment Highlights Urgent Need to Cut Carbon Pollution

WASHINGTON (May 6, 2014) – The third National Climate Assessment today documents the alarming extent to which climate change already is adversely impacting Americans all across the country, underlining anew the important opportunities we have today to take strong action to curb carbon pollution before the impacts worsen.

The following are two statements, one by Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the other by Kim Knowlton, senior scientist in NRDC’s health and environment program, and co-deputy director of NRDC’s Science Center, who served as a co-author of the Human Health Chapter in the assessment and will participate in a White House event today on the report.

“Our leading scientists send a stark message: Climate change is already seriously disrupting our lives, hurting our health and damaging our economy,” Beinecke said. “If we don’t slam the brakes on the carbon pollution driving climate change, we’re dooming ourselves and our children to more intense heat waves, destructive floods and storms, and surging sea levels. Fortunately, the Obama Administration is taking action – by setting standards for cleaner more efficient cars and, within weeks, by issuing the first-ever nationwide limits on carbon pollution from our existing power plants. Cleaning up the air is a win-win: It can create thousands of jobs, expand energy efficiency and lower electric bills while improving public health. That’s the climate legacy we can, and must, leave future generations.”

Knowlton added: “This report shows how climate change’s effects are now firmly in the present, posing threats to our health—and that of our children, and their children. Rising temperatures increase the frequency and intensity of dangerous heat waves, worsen illnesses like asthma, contribute to the spread of insects that carry infectious diseases, and fuel more dangerous storms and flooding. We have important opportunities now to limit climate change’s worst effects by cutting carbon emissions. At same time, we can prepare to deal with what’s happening now, and for what’s coming, to protect communities and people. ”

NRDC recently released an update of its 2012 proposal for how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can team up with the states and use the Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution by 24 to 31 percent by 2020 compared to 2012 levels of pollution. Read about this low cost, big benefit, job-creating clean energy proposal: http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution-standards/files/pollution-standards-IB-update.pdf

In 1990, Congress established the U.S. Global Research Program to coordinate climate science and global change research across 13 government agencies. Its first National Climate Assessment documented climate impacts underway in the U.S. The 2nd one revealed more widespread impacts and said climate change is human-induced.

The 3rd NCA released today comes on the heels of other recent scientific warnings about climate change:

The American Association for the Advancement of Science reported that levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising with growing risks to the climate:


Also, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warned that, if unchecked, climate change could erode food security, create poverty and trigger civil strife: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ar5/pr_wg2/140330_pr_wgII_spm_en.pdf

Frances Beinecke has blogged about today's report here: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/fbeinecke/medical_experts_say_addressing.html

Watch an interview with Kim Knowlton explaining the public health impacts of climate change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMVjpalPO74

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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