The National Climate Assessment describes increasing heat, fire and flood damage. It’s a stark contrast to Trump’s energy policies and climate claims.
BY BOB BERWYN, INSIDECLIMATE NEWS
The U.S. government’s climate scientists issued a blunt warning on Friday, writing that global warming is a growing threat to human life, property and ecosystems across the country, and that the economic damage—from worsening heat waves, extreme weather, sea level rise, droughts and wildfires—will spiral in the coming decades.
The country can reduce those costs if the U.S. and the rest of the world cut their greenhouse gas emissions, particularly the burning of fossil fuels. Capping global greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6°F) or less would avoid hundreds of billions of dollars of future damages, according to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, written by a science panel representing 13 federal agencies.
The report, like a recent comprehensive assessment issued by the United Nations, signaled the mounting urgency for governments to act quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before locking in high risks. And it underscored, without saying so directly, how the Trump administration is moving in the opposite direction.
The agencies write that global warming is:
- Intensifying and increasing the frequency of extreme rainstormsthat cause devastating flooding and crop losses.
- Putting people and economies at risk as temperatures rise: Increases in extreme heat waves could kill up to 2,000 more people per year in the Midwest alone by 2090, and Chicago’s climate could be more like Phoenix, with temperatures reaching 100°F on 50 to 60 days in summer.
- Increasing the drying of land and vegetation, which puts crops at risk and contributes to deadly wildfires.
- Harming U.S. forests, making them more vulnerable to fire and insects, disrupting their watersheds and wildlife habitat, and also reducing their ability to store carbon.
- Putting water supplies and water quality at risk, with “significant changes already evident across the country,” including more pollution runoff from extreme rainfall that, along with warmer water, fuels and toxic algae blooms.
- Creating multiple threats for coastal communities, including significant shifts in fish populations, ocean acidification, direct flooding damage from rising sea level and tropical storms. Along the coasts, $1 trillion in public infrastructure and private property are threatened by flooding, rising sea level and storm surges.
- Threatening indigenous peoples’ livelihoods and economies by affecting fishing, agriculture and forestry.
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