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Geoff Dabelko co-authors chapter in the Fifth National Climate Change Assessment

Geoff Dabelko, a professor at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, has investigated the links between environment and security for over three decades. His most recent endeavor was contributing to the Congressionally-mandated Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) as a chapter co-author. His chapter, titled "Climate Effects on U.S. International Interests," delves into the intricate web of connections between global climate change and its impact on the United States.

"I am honored to have been invited to contribute to the federal government’s assessment of record on climate change and specifically the myriad ways international developments impact the United States," Dabelko said. “Remarkably, it is only the second time the NCA has included an international chapter.”

The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandated the U.S. Global Change Research Program “to assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict and respond to human-induced and natural process of global change.” The USGCRP is required by Congress to produce a National Climate Assessment (NCA) every four years. This fifth Assessment includes 32 chapters on physical science, national-level sectors (e.g., water, energy, agriculture, ecosystems, transportation, health, infrastructure, etc.), regional impacts (ten regions of the U.S.), and responses (mitigation and adaptation). NCA5 underwent multiple rounds of extensive agency review, public comment, and an external peer review conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Over the past two years, Dabelko collaborated with a diverse group of experts, including individuals from the Departments of State, Interior, and Defense, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Millennium Challenge Corporation, U.S. Agency for International Development, Winrock International, and Columbia University. The culmination of their efforts resulted in a comprehensive evaluation of the economic, political, and environmental dynamics affecting the intersection of climate change and U.S. international interests.

"Working with distinguished practitioners and scientists from government agencies, NGOs, universities, and the private sector has been a tremendous learning experience," Dabelko added. "I am constantly bringing insights from serving as an NCA5 chapter author into my teaching, my research, and my work with partners here in Ohio, nationally, and internationally."

The NCA5, as a consensus-based evaluation and synthesis of scientific knowledge, holds a unique position in informing policy decisions without advocating for specific recommendations. 

"The economic, political, and environmental dynamics assessed in the International chapter of NCA5 make clear the critical importance of looking outside our borders to understand impacts within them," he explained.

For Dabelko, the NCA5 experience also served as a catalyst for drawing broader educational lessons. 

"One takeaway from this NCA5 experience is how critical it is for OHIO students to understand international developments in order to work effectively here in Ohio and the United States," he said. "Climate impacts and responses ignore distinctions between domestic and international. We are working hard to ensure those international connections are a central part of the training students receive at the Voinovich School and across the university."

At OHIO, Dabelko is making the NCA5, including its Midwest chapter, an essential part of his classes. 

“The publication of the first NCA in five years gives our OHIO students the opportunity to work directly with the most up to date assessment of what climate change means for the US and their communities,” he said.

Dabelko has also been actively sharing insights from NCA5 and its International chapter after the White House launch in November. He conducted three podcast interviews in December and will have two public webinars scheduled early in 2024. 

Links to podcasts on the NCA5 include:

January 9, 2024
Staff reports