US President Barack Obama’s administration hopes to fight global warming with the geeky power of numbers, maps and even gaming-type simulations.
The White House announced yesterday an initiative to provide private companies and local governments better access to already public climate data. The idea is that with the data they can help the public understand the risks they face, especially in coastal areas where flooding is a big issue.
The US government is also working with high-tech companies, such as Google, Microsoft and Intel, to come up with tools to make communities more resilient in dealing with weather extremes. They include computer simulations for people to use and see what would happen with rising seas and other warming scenarios. Also, companies will hold brainstorming sessions with computer programmers aimed at designing new apps on disaster risk, the initiative said.
NASA and the US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration will try to get people to create simulations to understand flooding risks in an upcoming coastal flooding challenge. One effort would include putting sensors on Philadelphia city buses to collect data to track the effect of climate change, the White House said.
White House advisers John Podesta and John Holdren said in a blog the idea is to create easy-to-use tools for the average person to prepare people to be more resilient to the prospects climate change are believed to present.
Climate scientist Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science, chief author of a massive UN affiliated report to be released this month on the impacts of global warming, hailed the efforts.
“It is especially important for people, communities and firms to understand the features of their environment and their operations that create climate risk,” Field said in an e-mail. “We need a serious, sustained conversation about climate change and dealing with it in a responsible manner.”
The federal government plans a Web site for climate data at http://climate.data.gov.