US Climate Report Is Out, and It's Dire

Federal agencies warn that the financial consequences of climate change will be huge
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2018 2:45 PM CST
US Climate Report Contradicts Trump's View
In this Nov. 9 photo, firefighter Jose Corona sprays water as flames from the Camp Fire consume a home in Magalia, Calif. The new climate-change report warns that wildfires and other extreme-weather disasters will become more common.   (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

(Newser) – President Trump continues to downplay the idea of global warming, but a new report from his own federal agencies has a starkly different message. The Fourth National Climate Assessment says that human-caused global warming is not only real, it is already taking a huge financial toll on the nation, one that is expected to worsen. The report, compiled by 13 federal departments and agencies, is mandated by Congress every four years. Details:

  • The report: Read it in full here.
  • Key point: "Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities," the report states, per USA Today. "The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future."
  • In the US: Among other things, the report warns of "more frequent and larger wildfires," worsening air pollution, decreases in water quality and quantity thanks to declining groundwater supplies, and a continued rise in sea levels, reports the Guardian. On the latter point, the report says average sea levels are up 9 inches from 50 years ago.

  • Trump's tweet: Two days ago, the president tweeted: "Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS - Whatever happened to Global Warming?" The report anticipates that often-heard sentiment, notes the AP, warning people not to confuse short-term weather with long-term trends. "Over climate timescales of multiple decades," the report reads, "global temperature continues to steadily increase."
  • The cost: The report warns that climate change is on track to reduce the US economy by 10% by the end of the century, reports the New York Times. That includes $141 billion from heat-related deaths, $118 billion from rising sea levels, and $32 billion from infrastructure damage.
  • The warming: The report says the continental US is 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than a century ago and could be another 2.3 degrees warmer by 2050, per the Washington Post. Crops such as wheat, corn, and soybeans would suffer. A city such as Phoenix could see 120 to 150 days a year in which temperatures were above 100, up from 80 at the turn of the century.
  • Solutions: The report says how bad things will get depends on how aggressively the US acts, and the authors have three main solutions, per the Times: tax greenhouse gas emissions, regulate how much greenhouse pollution can be emitted, and invest public money on research into clean energy.
  • Slow day: Politico notes that the White House chose to release the report on Black Friday, which critics see as an attempt to bury its news impact. Still, expect the report to give new impetus for the push toward a "Green New Deal," especially among new progressive Democrats in the House.
(Read more climate change stories.)

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