GAO publishes study in response to Friends of the Earth request; companion data about how specific lands may be affected will soon be available
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Government Accountability Office is releasing a report today indicating federally managed lands and waters are vulnerable to both current and expected impacts of global warming. Further, the report concludes that the ability of federal employees on the ground to address climate change is stymied by a lack of direction, inadequate scientific knowledge and insufficient resources. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and John Kerry (D-MA) requested the report in response to a request from the Bluewater Network, which is now part of Friends of the Earth.
"Global warming is the greatest threat our public lands and waters have ever faced," said Friends of the Earth Program Associate Kate Horner. "Unfortunately, this report indicates that once again, the Bush administration and its political appointees have impeded efforts to protect our most treasured places by effectively ignoring the impacts of global warming agency planning and management decisions."
The GAO report finds that U.S. public lands and waters are vulnerable to both current and future physical, biological and socio-economic effects, including drought, wildfire, pest and disease infestation, species migration and extinction as well as depleted fishing and tourism industries. To minimize the impacts of the global climate crisis, the report recommends that a comprehensive and coordinated planning and resource management strategy be enacted across all land management agencies.
Horner said she hopes the GAO report's release will lead to government action, not only to mitigate the causes of global warming, but also to remedy the complete and utter lack of direction among agencies that prevents global warming from being incorporated into planning and management strategies.
"The global climate crisis is already wreaking havoc on our nation's most treasured landscapes and resources," Horner said. "It is time for the Bush administration to end its failure to provide leadership and instead assist local resource managers as they attempt to address the complex threat of global warming."
Friends of the Earth has been calling attention to global warming's effects on public lands for years and has argued that climate change should be incorporated in all agency resource management plans. The groundbreaking report on this subject that was released by Friends of the Earth's Bluewater Network five years ago and led to the release of today's GAO report can be found at http://www.bluewaternetwork.org/reports/rep_ca_global_scorched.pdf. A new version of this report with updated data will be available from Friends of the Earth in the near future.
Two weeks ago, Friends of the Earth and allied groups won a lawsuit to stop the Bush administration from suppressing other scientific reports on global warming. More information about that victory is available at http://action.foe.org/dia/organizationsORG/foe/pressRelease.jsp?press_release_KEY=262.