Revamped EPA website shows increased climate change risks

Politics

EPA Administrator Michael Regan speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a gap of more than four years, the Environmental Protection Agency is relaunching a website highlighting evidence of climate change in the United States, including rising temperatures, increased ocean acidity, sea level rise, river flooding, droughts, heat waves and wildfires.

EPA unveiled the revamped website on Climate Change Indicators on Wednesday, calling it a “comprehensive resource” that presents clear and compelling evidence of changes to the climate. The website was effectively suspended under President Donald Trump, who did not allow information on the site to be updated and who repeatedly disputed or downplayed the effects of climate change.

“There is no small town, big city or rural community that is unaffected by the climate crisis,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Wednesday. “Americans are seeing and feeling the impacts up close, with increasing regularity.”

Unlike Trump, President Joe Biden calls climate change an existential threat to the planet and has made slowing global warming a top priority of his administration. He led a virtual global summit on climate change from the White House last month.

The Biden administration revived the climate change website and added some new measures, pulling information from government agencies, universities and other sources.

Regan called the revamped website “a crucial scientific resource that underscores the urgency for action on the climate crisis,” adding: “With this long overdue update, we now have additional data and a new set of indicators that show climate change has become even more evident, stronger, and extreme.”

Regan said it’s “imperative that we take meaningful action” to address climate change.

The new indicators show that 2020 was the second-warmest year on record, after 2016, and that Arctic sea ice was the second smallest on record last year.

The website also shows that heat waves are occurring more often across the United States, from an average of two heat waves per year during the 1960s to six per year during the 2010s.

Sea levels rose along much of the U.S. coastline between 1960 and 2020, particularly the mid-Atlantic and parts of the Gulf Coast, where some reporting stations registered increases of more than 8 inches, the EPA said.

Coastal flooding also is becoming more frequent, especially along the East and Gulf Coasts, while the average length of the growing season in the lower 48 states increased by more than two weeks since the beginning of the 20th century.

EPA said it worked with partners from dozens of government agencies, academic institutions and other organizations to develop the climate change indicators. Each indicator was peer reviewed by independent experts.

The revamped site also features interactive data exploration tools with graphs, maps and figures, along with an overview of the climate change indicators and climate change’s effects on human health and the environment.

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