Climate experts want science embedded in local decisions

PHOENIX – A group of scientists, climate experts and government officials from across the country want to make what the public knows about climate change more integrated with run-of-the-mill choices about infrastructure and zoning. It would be a sort of climate service, akin to the National Weather Service.

Kathy Jacobs, who led the third National Climate Assessment in 2014, now is at the University of Arizona.

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“The way the National Climate Assessment reads now, it mostly describes climate impacts and, to some degree, adaptation efforts. That’s really just a state of progress in adaptation,” she said. “That is not the same thing as helping people, for example, design culverts that are going to be able to handle increased flooding, or manage sea level rise.”

The Science for Climate Action Network (SCAN) is the result of a 10-year effort inside and outside the federal government and borne out of a Federal Advisory Committee that was looking at how to install an ongoing climate assessment program. The Trump administration ended the committee’s work in 2017.

Reconstituted as a civil-society organization, the network is looking for funding.

Jacobs said SCAN eventually wants to evaluate climate responses as part of its ongoing work, as well as provide new information via citizen science or remote sensing data.

“Other kinds of ways of collecting information that can be more useful in real time than these reports that are published every four years.”

This story is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability, a multimedia collaboration between Cronkite News, Arizona PBS, KJZZ, KPCC, Rocky Mountain PBS and PBS SoCal.


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