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President Barack Obama speaks during an event at the White House in Washington Feb. 12, 2014. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque) President Barack Obama speaks during an event at the White House in Washington Feb. 12, 2014. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)  

Obama announces $1 billion ‘Climate Resilience Fund’ while East Coast is buried in snow

President Obama will use his time in the drought-stricken state of California to announce a $1 billion “Climate Resilience Fund” to provide assistance to local communities to prepare for global warming.

The climate fund will be included in the president’s 2015 budget request. The $1 billion in spending would go to research into preparing for the impacts of global warming, helping communities prepare for such impacts and funding climate-resilient technology and infrastructure.

Obama also pledged millions of dollars to help Californian’s cope with the drought that has plagued more than 90 percent of the state. The president also directed federal facilities in the state to cut water usage.

“As communities across California struggle with the impacts of one of the state’s worst droughts in over 100 years, President Obama is committed to ensuring that his Administration is doing everything it can help the farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and communities being impacted,” the Obama administration said in an emailed statement.

But as California faces its worst drought in recent memory, the U.S. East Coast was buried in snow. On Thursday, the U.S. southeast was hit with a snowstorm that has been blamed for at least 21 deaths. The snowstorm has moved north, covering the nation’s capital in nearly a foot of snow and is expected to pelt the entire eastern seaboard from Georgia to Maine.

Thousands of flights have been cancelled, reports the AP. More than 70 percent of flights in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Charlotte, N.C were canceled on Thursday due to the fierce storm.

“This year is off to a brutal start for airlines and travelers,” said FlightAware CEO Daniel Baker. “Not only is each storm causing tens of thousands of cancellations, but there’s been a lot of them.”

This stands in sharp contrast to California, which is suffering from the worst drought in living memory. California Gov. Jerry Brown called a state of emergency last month, saying the state must prepare for prolonged water shortages. Environmentalists and Democrats have used the drought as a rallying cry to tackle global warming.

“The global climate has now been so extensively impacted by the human-caused buildup of greenhouse gases, that weather practically everywhere is being influenced by climate change,” White House science czar Dr. John Holdren told reporters Thursday night. “We’ve always had droughts in the American West, of course, but now the severe ones are getting more frequent, they’re getting longer, and they’re getting dryer.”

Scientists, however, have not yet linked the drought to global warming. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) will be examining the drought later this year to tell if it was caused by man-made global warming or natural variability.

Last year, AMS found that the drought that ravaged the Midwest in 2012 was not caused by global warming, but by natural variation in the weather. Other scientific research shows that droughts have not actually increased in intensity.

“It is misleading and just plain incorrect to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally,” Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado said in his testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”

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