President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday to “prepare the nation” for the dire consequences of global warming by establishing a new task force aimed in part at steering local communities toward making “smarter” investments to prepare for climate change-caused catastrophes.
“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,” the executive order states.
The 10-page order establishes the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise the Obama administration. One of the goals of the order seems to be to set ground rules for cooperative development goals at the local level.
The order says to “identify opportunities to support and encourage smarter, more climate-resilient investments by States, local communities, and tribes, including by providing incentives through agency guidance, grants, technical assistance, performance measures, safety considerations, and other programs.”
The task force is comprised of seven Democratic governor of states, and one Republican governor of a territory, Gov. Eddie Calvo of Guam.
The Democratic governors are Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, Jerry Brown of California, Jay Inslee of Washington state, Jack Markell of Delaware, Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Pat Quinn of Illinois and Peter Shumlin of Vermont. The task force also includes local officials, including 14 mayors, two county officials and two tribal officials.
The order also tells federal agencies to identify changes to land and water policies and regulations “to strengthen climate resilience.” Additionally, it requires federal agencies to increase the amount of information with local communities to be prepared for climate problems.
“The E.O. instructs federal agencies to work together and with information users to develop new climate preparedness tools and information that state, local, and private-sector leaders need to make smart decisions,” a White House statement said. “In keeping with the president’s Open Data initiative, agencies will also make extensive Federal climate data accessible to the public through an easy-to-use online portal.”