The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has drafted up a plan of action to address the Earth's rapidly ever changing climate, a plan the agency calls Climate Change Adaptation Plan.
With the use of expert judgment and scientific literature in regards to the impact of climate change, the EPA will identify potential vulnerabilities and access what action it will take to fulfill its mission. To protect human health and the environment, even under the current climatic change circumstances is the agency's goal.
The EPA will provide its staff with the necessary information and tools to increase awareness and empower them to integrate climate change adaption into their work and address known vulnerabilities. The Climate Change Adaption Plan describes these known vulnerabilities, as "the degree to which a system is susceptible to or unable to cope with adverse effects of climate change including climate variability and extremes."
The plan details how the average temperature across the United States has risen by 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 50 years, while there has only been an average of a 5% increase of precipitation. Also noted is the fact that extreme weather events have become more intense and frequent, including heat waves, regional droughts and hurricanes. The recurring heavy downpours have caused pollutants and pathogens to get into our rivers and streams caused sewer systems to overflow in many cities. As a result of this change, the sea level has risen along some coastal areas of the United States, up to 8 inches. In some locations, the sea level has fallen.
"These changes pose risks for a wide range of human and environmental systems, including public health, the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink, freshwater resources, the coastal environment, wildlife and ecosystems, infrastructure, economic activity, cultural resources and social wellbeing," said the EPA.
The 55 page Climate Change Adaption Plan points to five strategic goals, detailing the agency's approach to the environmental changes. The goals listed are as follows: Taking Action on Climate Change and Improving Air Quality, Protecting America's Waters, Cleaning Up Communities and Advancing Sustainable Development, Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals and Preventing Pollution and Enforcing Environmental Laws. The EPA said in the plan, "In addition to known vulnerabilities affecting each of the five goals, EPA has begun to assess the vulnerabilities of its facilities and operations to a changing climate." By 2015, the EPA said it will implement environmental management programs to further its mission.