Data gaps in US territories threaten climate resilience

Federal agencies often neglect to collect data in U.S. territories as comprehensively as they do for states, jeopardizing climate adaptation and mitigation efforts, a new GAO report reveals.

Anita Hofschneider reports for Grist.


In short:

  • The GAO report highlights significant data collection deficiencies in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa.
  • Barriers include statutory exclusions, small sample sizes, high costs, and technical challenges like lack of postal services.
  • The Biden administration is urged to address these data gaps, which are critical for assessing climate vulnerability and resource needs.

Key quote:

“If folks are serious about environmental justice, they need to be serious about addressing equity issues in U.S. territories.”

— Neil Weare, co-director of Right to Democracy

Why this matters:

Inadequate data collection hampers effective climate response and resource allocation in U.S. territories, which face severe climate impacts. Scientists and regulators find it challenging to make informed decisions without comprehensive data, while advocates struggle to raise awareness and push for changes that could mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. As a result, these territories remain caught in a cycle of vulnerability and inadequate preparedness, highlighting the urgent need for investment in advanced data collection and analysis systems.

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