Published: Sun, November 25, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Climate change to hit USA economy, report warns

Climate change to hit USA economy, report warns

A US government report says the impacts of climate change, including powerful storms, droughts and wildfires, are worsening in the United States.

The authors of the report - which include scientists from NASA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy - found that Northeast's cities are also more vulnerable to climate threats because of higher concentrations of historic structures, as well as older housing and infrastructure, as compared with other regions.

The fourth National Climate Assessment says that climate change is poised to reduce the US economy by as much as 10 percent over the next 80 years, and warns that the changing climate will produce more extreme weather events, including wildfires and flash flooding.

The congressionally mandated report, written with the help of more than a dozen USA government agencies and departments, outlined the projected impact of global warming on every corner of American society in a dire warning that is at odds with the Trump administration's pro-fossil-fuels agenda.

"We are seeing the things we said would be happening, happen now in real life", said another co-author Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University.

The report is mandated by law. It also explained ways climate change could hurt Americans' health, the country's indigenous populations, water supplies and the agriculture sector.

The report also finds that the US will be 3-12 degrees hotter by the end of the century, depending on how much greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere.

If emissions continue to climb, economic losses will be in the hundreds of billions annually in some sectors by the end of the century - "more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many US states", the report says.

"Because several GHGs, in particular carbon dioxide, reside in the atmosphere for decades or longer, many climate-influenced effects are projected to continue changing through 2050, even if GHG emissions were to stop immediately", said the report.

In cold or rainy countries, the task might be challenging - but these challenges are nothing compared to the worst consequences of climate change.

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Sea levels are continuing to rise, and extreme events like heavy rain and floods continue to increase worldwide, which will "cascade across economic sectors", Easterling said, warning of "substantial net damage to the United States economy".

For the most part, they demurred, saying that in part the report was finished early and that they wanted to make sure it was out ahead of both an American Geophysical Union gathering next month, as well as a major worldwide climate conference in Poland around the same time. It was originally scheduled for December.

But it added that projections of further damage could change if greenhouse gas emissions are sharply curbed, even though numerous impacts of climate change - including more frequent and more powerful storms, droughts and flooding - are already under way.

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However, the administration a year ago downplayed a separate government report calling human activity the dominant driver of global warming, saying in a statement that "the climate has changed and is always changing".

During a press conference Friday, officials behind the report repeatedly declined to answer questions about the timing of its release and why it contradicts public statements from Trump.

Trump, administration officials and elected Republicans frequently say they can't tell how much of climate change is caused by humans and how much is natural.

Citing numerous studies, the new climate report says more than 90 per cent of the current warming is caused by humans. "But the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur".

"There are no credible alternative human or natural explanations supported by the observational evidence", the report says.

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