Although details will not be released until next month, the president’s proposed Climate Resilience Fund will be “ultimately focused on how all these changes in weather patterns are going to have an impact up and down the United States -- not just on the coast but inland as well -- and how do we start preparing for that,” Obama said during a Feb. 14 speech in drought-stricken California, adding that dealing with climate change “cannot be a partisan endeavor.”
Shortly before the speech, John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told reporters that “we really understand a number of the reasons that global climate change is increasing the intensity and the frequency and the life of drought in drought-prone regions. This is one of the better-understood dimensions of the relationship between global climate change and extreme weather in particular regions.”
However, the number of tornadoes, wildfires, floods, and hurricanes were all significantly down in 2013, and damages from such weather-related disasters were well within the average range over the past three decades, Patrick Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, and assistant director Paul Knappenberger, pointed out in their January 27th article:
"There were only seven billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013, down from 11 in 2102 and 14 in 2011. And most of 2013’s billion dollar disasters were near the low end of the cost scale, and in total, amounted to somewhere in the 15-20 billion dollar range (final numbers for damages are not in yet)—near the average of the past 34 years” when the federal government first started keeping track, they wrote.
A study released last October by the SI Organization concurred, calling 2013 “one of the least extreme U.S. weather years ever… Whether you’re talking about tornadoes, wildfires, extreme heat or hurricanes, the good news is that weather-related disasters in the US are all way down this year compared to recent years and, in some cases, down to historically low levels.”
The new Climate Resilience Fund, which must be approved by Congress, would be in addition to Obama’s major Climate Action Plan unveiled last June, which directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create new carbon pollution standards for power plants and focuses on leading international efforts to reduce carbon emissions worldwide.
The proposal came a week after the Obama administration also announced the creation of seven climate hubs to help farmers respond to what Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called “a new and more complex threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate.”
According to a Fact Sheet released by the White House on February 14th, the proposed Climate Resilience Fund would:
- “Invest in research and unlock data and information to better understand the projected impacts of climate change and how we can better prepare our communities and infrastructure;
- “Help communities plan and prepare for the impacts of climate change and encourage local measures to reduce future risk;
- “Fund breakthrough technologies and resilient infrastructure that will make us more resilient in the face of changing climate.”
The fund was based on a recommendation made in December 2012 by the Center for American Progress (CAP), which claimed that “extreme weather related to climate change is the new normal.”