The US National Climate Report, published last week, combines submissions from 13 separate federal agencies. It states that climate change is already harming the lives of some Americans, with ‘substantial damages’ likely to be caused if temperatures continue to rise in an uncontrolled way.
According to the report, climate change is already causing flooding on the east coast, coastal erosion in Alaska and soil loss in the midwest. Meanwhile, the west has seen disastrous wildfires, including the Camp fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise, killing at least 84 people.
The report urges taking action now against climate change, stating that whilst global temperature increases could be limited to 2C with drastic changes to emissions, a continuation of current emission levels could lead to temperature increases of 5C or more by 2100. Temperature increases beyond 2C would create ‘a totally different world’ according to Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University.
Future costs to the US economy are projected to run to hundreds of billions of dollars a year, while thousand of additional lives will be lost as a result of unmitigated climate change. Total losses, if climate change goes unchecked, could reach over $340 billion per year. The report suggests that curbing greenhouse gas emissions is the best way to protect against the most damaging impacts and reduce costs to the economy.
US President Donald Trump’s reaction has been to state that he doesn’t believe his own government’s report. Speaking outside the White House, he said “I’ve seen it, I’ve read some of it and it’s fine…..I don’t believe it.”
Photo: Padlocked tap in a drought-hit park in California.