US government focuses on climate change with new open data platform

The White House on Wednesday (March, 19) inaugurated a website aimed at making US federal data about climate change “more open, accessible, and useful to citizens, researchers, entrepreneurs, and innovators”, according to official release.

The platform, managed by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is part of a broader Climate Data Initiative launched by the Obama administration to provide regional and city planners, resource managers, farmers, hospitals, and businesses with data-driven tools “to help them better understand, manage, and prepare for the real-world impacts associated with climate change”. In the pilot phase the website makes available data related to coastal flooding, sea level rise, and their impacts. Further data and tools relevant to risks to human health, the food supply, and energy infrastructure will follow.

The initiative came after recent signs that climate change is gaining momentum in US political debate. On March 10, 30 US Senators organized an all-night “Up4Climate” session aimed at discussing climate-related problems and at raising political pressure on the issue. According to Guardian analysis, the move suggests climate change is increasingly seen as an electoral theme.  The New York Times also pinpointed among the biggest recent changes in US domestic policy “the injection of hundreds of millions of dollars to support candidates who make climate change a priority”, such as the case of California billionaire Tom Steyer who pledged $100 million in this year’s midterm elections (here a detailed bio of the business personality).

US Secretary of State John Kerry in his first Policy Guidance message to the Department, released earlier in March, said he plans to keep global warming at the top of the State Department’s agenda.