The United States lacks the basic information and digital infrastructure required to effectively respond to the emerging climate crisis. While the science and technology needed for sensible climate policy exists, efforts to leverage these technical resources are fragmented and undirected. Actors in the most important sectors of the U.S. economy are making long-term investment decisions based on inaccurate or outdated data as a result. In the past 10 years, for example, homes worth over $11.2 billion have been built in areas that are at risk from sea-level rise. Insurance companies have paid over $25 billion in claims resulting from the 2017 wildfires in California. Better information on environmental impacts of climate change will make it possible to mitigate losses from wildfires, droughts, floods, and extreme weather events. Therefore, the next Administration should invest in Earth observation to directly measure environmental change and greenhouse gas emissions.
The next Administration should also invest in modern data and information technology infrastructure to effectively and efficiently respond to climate change. Such digital infrastructure will make it easier to integrate climate science into decision making. These investments will not only strengthen the domestic economy, but will also reposition the United States as a global leader on one of the most pressing “moonshots” of our time—basic measurements of humanity’s impact on our home planet.
Common frameworks for evaluating proposals leave this utility function implicit, often evaluating aspects of risk, uncertainty, and potential value independently and qualitatively.
The Biden-Harris Administration should facilitate the transition to a clean grid by aggressively supporting utility-scale renewable energy resources in rural areas that are connected to urban centers through modernized high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission.
A just transition from coal to nuclear energy production requires developers to listen and respond to local communities’ concerns and needs through the process of planning, siting, licensing, design, construction, and eventual decommissioning.
Programs across the federal government are working to increase American health by making physical activity safer and more accessible, but most Americans still fail to get enough physical exercise, which has social and economic consequences.