Climate change will shrink US economy, says report


The White House on Friday released a federal report that found that the impacts of climate change are being felt across the country, and "extreme weather and climate-related events" are going to worsen in the years to come - with a significant impact on the economy.

Coupled with some of the highest rates of ocean warming and sea level rise in the nation, the Northeast is already experiencing changes to the environment and ecosystems that are increasing risks to its people, infrastructure and economy, the report says.

The National Climate Assessment's publication marks the government's fourth comprehensive look at climate change effects on the United States since 2000.

The report says warming-charged extremes "have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration".

"In light of the report's findings, it's critical that federal, state and local governments take aggressive action to protect USA residents by both reigning in emissions and helping communities adapt to the climate impacts that are now inevitable", said Brenda Ekwurzel, the director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists and one of the study's authors.

The findings also aggressively dispute President Donald Trump's repeated claims that climate change is a "hoax".

The assessment from scientists and 13 federal agencies and took years to compile and runs more than 1,000 pages in its printed version.

And report co-author Donald Wuebbles, a University of IL climate scientist, said, "We're going to continue to see severe weather events get stronger and more intense".

"U.S. residents are now being forced to cope with dangerously high temperatures, rising seas, deadly wildfires, torrential rainfalls and devastating hurricanes".

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"We can now say with more accuracy that by the end of the century, the difference between the United States in a world where we have achieved something like the goals that we undertook for temperature stabilization in the Paris agreement and one where we don't is tens of thousands of lives lost annually and potentially hundreds of billions of dollars lost annually", he said. And it will alter the geographic range and distribution of disease-carrying insects and pests, exposing more people to ticks that carry Lyme disease and mosquitoes that transmit viruses such as Zika, West Nile, and dengue, with "varying impacts" across regions.

For example, the report predicts that in the years from 2070-2099, the United States will see 20% more precipitation in winter and spring for the north central U.S., and a 20% decrease in the southwest in spring.

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 USA states", the report says.

"I can only hope the president accepts this report", Kim Knowlton, deputy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a teleconference call.

The Western states of the USA were at particular risk, the report claims.

Several federal experts who participated in a media call after the release of the report Friday were repeatedly asked about the timing of its release on a day when the country's attention is likely elsewhere.

The report also finds that the USA will be 3-12 degrees hotter by the end of the century, depending on how much greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere. Legacy power technologies, such as water-cooled power plants, will continue to work for decades, however, and will be less effective as temperatures make cooling sources too hot.

Wired defines climate change as "the catch-all term for the shift in worldwide weather phenomena associated with an increase in global average temperatures".

Light said it's impossible not to conclude that the timing is meant to hide the report from public view. Here another reason to keep washing with cold water: Since it avoids turning on the water heater, cold-water washing also produces less greenhouse gas emissions.

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