A sweeping new federal report, released on Black Friday, warns that disasters like hurricanes and wildfires will become more common. It specifically highlights the damage that climate impacts will have on the national economy, estimating it will cost the United States 10% of its GDP by end of century. Trump reacted to the report, which was released by 13 of his own agencies, by saying “I don’t believe it.”
In the wake of the release, Climate XChange answered some of the big questions about the report, what’s in it, and why it matters.
What is the Climate Report?
The National Climate Assessment is a comprehensive and authoritative report on climate change and its impacts in the United States, with its findings based on more than a thousand research studies.
Mandated by Congress, a new report is required to be compiled and released every two years. This is the 4th such of these reports, written by a team of independent scientists and officials from 13 federal agencies.
What does it say about climate change?
The report reaffirms that the continental U.S. has warmed by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900, 1.2 degrees of that being in the last decade alone. It warns that by the end of the century the US will be between 3 and 12 degrees Fahrenheit warmer, depending on how much carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere in the coming decades. The report also insists that at least 90% of current warming is caused by humans.
What Are the Most Shocking findings?
The most newsworthy takeaway from the report is that global warming could cost the US economy a total of 10% of GDP by the end of the century. The report also finds that extreme weather cost the U.S. nearly $400 billion between 2015 and 2017, the most in the modern era.
The report highlights how the burning of coal, oil, and gas is contributing to global warming, and its impacts on different sectors of the economy and different regions of the country. In some sectors, the report estimates losses to reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars, mainly due to worsening air pollution that causes respiratory and heart problems, more deaths caused by heat waves, and increased insect-borne diseases.
Losses also include over $1 trillion in potential coastal damages, with infrastructure and private property facing threats from rising sea level. Relocation and damage caused by coastal flooding also contribute to economic losses.
Here are the top takeaways for Northeastern states from the climate report:
- By 2035, temperatures in the Northeast are expected to be 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit higher on average than during the pre-industrial era, the largest increase in temperature in the contiguous United States.
- Depending on future greenhouse gases emissions, sea level will rise anywhere between 2 and 11 feet by 2100. This will increase flood damage caused by hurricanes and Nor’easters, which are expected to become more common.
- Snowfall precipitation will fall as temperature increases turn snow to rain. This will have a dramatic effect on the region’s winter recreation industry, which brings in over $2.5 billion in annual revenue in the Northeast.
- More frequent and longer-lasting heat waves will increase deaths, especially in urban areas. The report estimates extreme heat waves will cause 650 more deaths annually by 2050 in the Northeast, and 2,300 more deaths annually by 2090.
When Was It Released?
The report was originally scheduled for publication in early December, but the date was unexpectedly moved up to the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday). Politicians, activists, and researchers have expressed concerns, as the busy holiday weekend was potentially an attempt by the administration to bury the report, and avoid media attention.
What Are People Saying About the Report?
The AP reports that study co-author Andrew Light called the releasing of the report on Black Friday, “ a transparent attempt by the Trump Administration to bury this report and continue the campaign of not only denying but suppressing the best of climate science.” Light is an international policy expert at the World Resources Institute.
Democrats, who recently took back the US House of Representatives, are using the report to draw attention to Trump’s environmental record. House Democrats are expected to use their newfound power in the House to block the administration’s attempts to rollback Obama era climate policies. Speaking on the matter, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) said, “no matter how hard they try, the Trump administration can’t bury the effects of climate change in a Black Friday news dump – effects their own federal government scientists have uncovered.”
Meanwhile, when asked about the report, Trump was quoted as saying “I don’t believe it.” The administration has overall attempted to downplay the findings of the report, which was compiled by 13 federal agencies, and continued a rhetoric that denies man made climate change.
Where Can I Read the Report?
Why Is This Important?
The report clashes with past statements from the President where he’s questioned the legitimacy of climate change science, and the findings are directly at odds with the administration’s agenda of environmental deregulation.
More than anything else, the administration’s reaction to the report underscores the very real vacuum in climate policy we have here in the United States. Due to this void, political power is shifting towards states and businesses, who are– unlike the federal administration– willing and able to take on the growing threats of climate change.