Thursday, October 22, 2009

Prepare for climate change, U.S. report warns W.House

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As Congress considers curbs on carbon dioxide pollution, a U.S. report on Thursday urged the White House to prepare now for flooding and other natural disasters brought by global warming.

Federal agencies, working with Congress, state and local governments, should "develop a national strategic plan that will guide the nation's efforts to adapt to a changing climate," said a report by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress.

John Stephenson, director of GAO's natural resources and environment office, told a congressional panel that higher concentrations of greenhouse gases may have significant effects, including threats to coastal areas from rising seas.

The GAO found there was no coordinated national approach for dealing with such problems.

While government has been slow to get ready, Stephenson said, "Natural disasters such as floods, heat waves, droughts or hurricanes raised public awareness of the costs of potential climate change impacts."

A survey of government officials, GAO said, found there was limited money for climate change planning, as agencies put higher priority on other concerns. …

Prepare for climate change, U.S. report warns W.House

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