In a bold move to address the climate change crisis, President Obama signed Executive Orders yesterday to address the growing climate crisis. The order, titled "Executive Order -- Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change", recognizes the extreme impact that climate change is having, and will continue to have in the future.
Because no federal legislation to curb climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions is likely to get through Congress due to widespread Republican opposition, the president has been using his executive authority as an alternative to new laws.
In the first part of the order the new policy is laid out:
"Section 1. Policy. The impacts of climate change -- including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise -- are already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies, and public health across the Nation. These impacts are often most significant for communities that already face economic or health-related challenges, and for species and habitats that are already facing other pressures."
"Managing these risks requires deliberate preparation, close cooperation, and coordinated planning by the Federal Government, as well as by stakeholders, to facilitate Federal, State, local, tribal, private-sector, and nonprofit-sector efforts to improve climate preparedness and resilience; help safeguard our economy, infrastructure, environment, and natural resources; and provide for the continuity of executive department and agency (agency) operations, services, and programs."
On the heals of recent reports of dying oceans and a possible mass extinction underway, the order calls for communities, governors, tribal leaders, mayors and county leaders to come together to address the growing threat.
In recent weeks, another crisis has developed as methane levels coming from the Arctic region have reached all-time highs, triggering concerns of runaway or abrupt climate change. Methane, previously locked in frozen clathrates under the sea-floor, has the ability to accelerate warming and could cause massive global weather changes within a time-frame of mere years.
Release of methane in the Arctic could speed the melting of sea ice and climate change with a cost to the global economy of up to $60 trillion over coming decades, according to a paper published in the journal Nature.
More importantly than the cost is the threat of what a large release of methane could do to life on Earth. It is theorized that a catastrophic release of methane has led to mass extinctions in the past.
As the damage from climate change continues to soar, more catastrophic weather events are on the horizon. Already it has been estimated that the effects of climate change in 2012 have cost U.S. taxpayers $300 per person last year due to extreme weather events, or $100 billion in total.
The money was mostly used to pay for federal crop, flood, wildfire and disaster relief.
To read the Presidents Executive Order on climate change you can see the full order at The White House government website.
Here is also a list of groups you can join and follow to find out more about what you can do:
Citizens Concerned about Climate Change on FaceBook
The Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) on FaceBook
The Arctic News Blog