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Climate Change Response

The federal government’s efforts to respond to climate change include adaptation (adjustments to natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate change) and climate engineering (large-scale deliberate interventions in the earth's climate system to diminish climate change or its impacts).

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Recent reports on adaptation focused on governmentwide strategic planning, and natural hazard mitigation and insurance have noted the need for a national strategic plan that will guide the nation's efforts to adapt to a changing climate, including defined federal priorities. In addition, the federal government is responding to specific impacts, such as the more than 180 Alaska Native villages affected to some degree by the growing impacts of climate change—which include melting polar ice, increasing storm intensity, and coastal flooding—increasing the urgency of federal and state efforts to identify imminently threatened villages and assess their relocation options. Figure 1 shows sea erosion at the Alaska Native village of Shishmaref, Alaska.

Figure 1: Sea Erosion of Shishmaref, Alaska (June 2003)

Sea Erosion at Shishmaref (June 2003)

The United States lacks a clear strategy for climate engineering research in the context of the federal response to climate change. See figure 2 for climate engineering technologies, their technical status, future directions for research, and potential responses.

Figure 2: Examples of Climate Engineering Technologies

Examples of climate engineering technologies. Source: GAO.

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    • Alfredo Gomez
    • Director, Natural Resources and Environment
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