Days after the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, President Barack Obama has issued an executive order meant to encourage Americans to adapt to a changing climate. "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," he writes.
To adapt, he calls for local governments, businesses, and other groups to jointly "improve climate preparedness and resilience; help safeguard our economy, infrastructure, environment, and natural resources; and provide for the continuity of executive department and agency operations, services, and programs." This means building on a 2009 order also meant to deal with climate resilience and calling for a series of ad-hoc committees that will propose solutions.
The order is part of a larger plan to mitigate climate change
Obama calls for the Department of Defense, EPA, NOAA, and several other agencies to meet within nine months and create a plan to adapt their land- and water-related policies to protect watersheds and natural resources in the face of climate change, including a timeline for any changes. A similar panel will create open data frameworks and other resources for local governments, NGOs, and the private sector, and all agencies must make an inventory of the risks they face from climate change and the solutions they could adopt.
This executive order is part of a larger government plan to prevent and adapt to climate change. While many of the policies remain in the future, they've received mixed responses. An overhaul plan revealed earlier this year was praised for its efforts at adding protections against climate change, but the effectiveness of new energy incentives and regulations remains unclear. Nonetheless, the EPA has moved forward with attempts to reduce coal plant pollution by requiring new plants to adopt carbon capture systems in the coming years, and more changes are on the horizon.