These federal agencies are tasked with tracking and studying climate change: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). They provide among the most complete knowledge banks available when it comes to scientific facts, impacts, and solutions:
But they’re also under siege from a new administration filled with operatives who deny that climate change needs to be taken seriously.
We wanted you to know about four government web sites that provide exceptional, science-based information on the impact climate change is having, and how communities can cope. We urge you to take advantage of their depth of information, at least as long as it is available, accurate and untainted by a new political filter.
Please know that information on all federal web sites is in what is called “the public domain.” That means that it is free to access and use. In fact, if you see data, reports, research and analyses you think could be useful to you, you do not need permission to copy and paste them into files you can access later. You can also freely share this information on social media. We encourage you to do both.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – EPA’s website offers comprehensive fact-based information designed to answer three key questions: Why is the climate changing? How is it changing? What can we do about it? They have also compiled data on climate change impacts for every region of the U.S., as well as in each state. Wondering how climate change could affect the crops your region produces, or how much drinking water might be available, or what insects or other vermine might be moving your area as your region warms? You can find it the EPA.
In addition, the EPA website lists climate change impacts by sectors: agriculture, coasts, ecosystems, energy, forests, society, transportation, water resources and human health. On the Human Health pages, for example, the research addresses ways our well-being could be threatened by the higher temperatures, poorer air quality , extreme weather events, and insect-borne diseases associated with climate change.
Important Perspective: Though the executive branch of government doesn’t share this view, EPA says without reservation, “Every American is vulnerable to climate change impacts on their health at some point in their lives.”
NASA’s Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet – Their stated mission is “to provide the public with accurate and timely news and information about Earth’s changing climate.” Their Facts section organizes information according to evidence, causes, effects, scientific consensus, vital signs, and FAQs.
They also offer resources for kids called “Climate Kids: Nasa’s Eyes on the Earth.”
Where EPA compiles data and research that focus on pollution and climate change related to burning fossil fuels, NASA is researching the impacts climate change is having on the atmosphere and the oceans.
Don’t Miss Feature: NASA has created a “Climate Time Machine,” a series of visualizations that show how some of Earth’s key climate indicators have changed over time. Have you heard that Arctic sea ice is melting, leading to sea level rise in places like Florida and New Orleans? Check out the Sea Ice and Sea Level time machine pages. Wondering how hot it really is now compared to the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, which is when we ramped up burning coal and oil? Click on the Global Temperature time machine, and drag the cursor from 1884 to 2015. It will make you sweat just looking at our once-cool globe turn to blazing orange and red as the planet heats up over time.
CDC – The Centers for Disease Control have a mission: “CDC 24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People.” That mission includes compiling data on the negative impacts climate change has on human health. Fact sheets tackle research on the threats to our health from extreme rainfall and drought and climate change’s impact on air pollution.
CDC is also helping state and city health departments “prepare for the specific health impacts of climate change that their communities will face” by providing research, data, and science-based adaptation strategies.
Unique Content: CDC is one of the few institutions studying the way climate change exacerbates mental health and stress-related disorders.
“Extreme weather events can affect mental health in several ways,” says the CDC. “For example, research demonstrated high levels of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder among people affected by Hurricane Katrina, and similar observations have followed floods and heat waves. Some evidence suggests wildfires have similar effects.
“All of these events are increasingly fueled by climate change. Other health consequences of intensely stressful exposures are also a concern, including pre-term birth, low birth weight, and maternal complications.”
USDA – The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees how we produce food in the U.S., so part of their focus on climate change relates to the impact that rising temperatures and extreme weather events can have on our farms and farming systems. The Department’s National Agricultural Library offers a treasure trover on topics ranging from how climate change affects the water we need to irrigate crops, how invasive species might be reducing farm productivity, and how warmer winters could mean we’ll see more bug infestations next summer. USDA also is in charge of managing our forests,
Helpful Regional Info – USDA’s “Climate Hub Regions” have developed region by region, science-based information about the impact climate change is having on our agricultural and natural resources. Their goal is to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners manage and reduce the impacts climate change will have on their businesses.
EPA, NASA, CDC, and USDA all provide reliable information based on “the best available science” that your tax dollars have paid for. Review it, use it, share it, and help protect it. The more we know about climate change, the better equipped we’ll be to stop it.
By the way, the U.S. Commerce Department links to the climate change pages of all federal government websites here.
Photo: Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock, Inc.