“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.” – President Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 2013

This past October, only 67% of Americans believed that global warming is affecting the world, according to a pole by Pew Research Center. On a list of 20 world issues that the Congress and president needed to focus on, global warming ranked number 19 according to Americans.

In response to this, President Obama is currently working on a website that will enable Americans to view how the ever-changing climate is affecting their own regions and hometowns. John D. Podesta, Obama’s counselor, believes that “localizing this information gives a sense of how this affects people and spurs actions. If you’re thinking…how your local community will be affected, it’s likely to change that question of salience.”

Podesta and John P. Holdren, the White House science adviser, formed the idea of, which strives to illustrate data of calculated wildfires, dangerously rising sea levels and dry spells.

Their website is based on urgency and helping Americans to understand the necessity of focusing on the environment; it is also based on the necessity to prepare Americans for the affect that the damaged climate will have in the future. The Obama administration is currently helping governments to strengthen their methods of transportation, such as bridges, shorelines and roads, so that the local community would be protected from dangerous changes in weather that are more common because of the climate change.

Obama stated that one of the most important steps to alleviating climate change is to reinforce international relations. In doing so the US will work with other countries to find a global solution to this global challenge and spread action through major countries that contribute to pollution emissions.

In the beginning stages, Podesta and Holdren’s website will merely feature information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the United States Geological Survey and the Defense Department. They are expecting the first revealed page to primarily focus on sea levels and eroding and flooding coastal lines.

Most people are aware of Google Maps and Google Earth, Google’s projects in which you can locate most addresses on the globe, and they are considering mixing their ability to map with the government’s information on climate change and risk measurements.

With this website the US population will have a greater chance to understand the imminent danger that climate change is bringing, and they will also have a visual representation of the potential harm it could bring their states and hometowns.

– Rebecca Felcon

Sources: White House, The New York Times, Climate Action Plan
Photo: Politico

What Does USCAN Stand For?

Created in 1989, The U.S. Climate Action Network (abbreviated USCAN) is a network of organizations dedicated to fighting climate change. An affiliate of the global Climate Action Network (CAN), USCAN works to connect the multiple organizations working to spread awareness and tackle an issue that has reached critical levels of urgency.

USCAN has been present at all major environmental summits. It aided in developing the policy at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and again for the Kyoto protocol in 1997. Since 2007, it has worked to lobby support for environmentally friendly policies against a notoriously resistant government, both at home and internationally.

Currently, USCAN is focusing on supporting five key areas. The first is the Clean Air Act, which regulates emissions and controls the quality of air and the impact of industrial activity on the ozone layer. The second is monitoring the international agreements the United States makes in order to cooperate with international efforts in conservation. The third is raising awareness regarding tar sands, where the U.S. extracts oil through a process that causes huge trauma to the environment, with the destruction of habitat, water wastage and the release of toxins that lead to cancer and respiratory infections. They conduct continuous climate polls to keep a finger on the pulse of the nation’s interest in climate change and environmental issues.

Recently, they have also been involved in garnering support and spreading awareness of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, an extensive proposal outlining the steps the nation should take in order to balance economic progress with vital environmental conservation.

USCAN is part of a large group of organizations – 700 worldwide – working together to fight the rapid destruction of our environment. As an organization themselves, they have little sway but have collaborated to harness the power of several individuals and institutions to rally the support necessary to influence policymakers. As stated in their description, “Only by working together to build effective pressure on the policymakers at all levels of government will we win the strong actions required to confront the climate crisis.”

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Sources: USCAN, CAN, Climate Action Plan
Photo: Flickr