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GAO report faults Interior on global warming efforts

Back in 2004, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ) asked the GAO to report on how the Department of Interior was combating global warming on federal land - parks, forests, marine sanctuaries, and so on.

The report is in, and the conclusions are not so happy. Not only is Interior doing very little to combat global warming, we're already seeing impacts all over the place. From a San Francisco Chronicle article:

Looking at agencies ranging from the U.S. Forest Service to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, accountability office officials gathered reports of dramatic changes across the nearly 30 percent of U.S. land that lies under federal control. Since 1850, the glaciers in Glacier National Park have declined from 150 to 26; climate-triggered coral bleaching in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is eroding the area's tourist appeal.

Non-native grasses are fast replacing native shrubs in the Mojave Desert, where the grasses also are fueling hotter and longer-lasting wildfires. Even pinyon pines hundreds of years old that have survived droughts before in the Southwest are dying off.

And in terms of global warming, it's like the Keystone Cops in the executive branch. Not uncommon or surprising in the Bush administration:

The office said the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce departments have failed to give their resource managers the guidance and tools they need - computer models, temperature and precipitation data, climate projects and detailed inventories of plant and animal species - to cope with all the biological and physical effects from the warming.

It states these managers "have limited guidance about whether or how to address climate change and therefore, are uncertain about what action, if any, they should take. ... Without such guidance, their ability to address climate change and effectively manage resources is constrained."

John Kerry is calling for action. Hopefully, there will be action, and the rest of Congress will support it:

Kerry now wants legislation requiring more climate change science.

"We waited a long time for this report to confirm the daunting prospect that climate change is impacting our public lands from coast to coast, and this administration is ill-equipped to respond," Kerry said.

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