National Climate Assessment Confirms We Have to Act


The congressionally mandated report by 13 federal agencies, the first of its kind under the Trump administration, found that climate change is already being felt in communities across the United States. The White House's decision to instead release the report on Black Friday was likely to lead to accusations that the administration was attempting to dump the report on a day many Americans were not engaged in the news cycle.

Climate change will have a far-reaching affect on the U.S. if more is not done to combat it, according to the Fourth National Climate Assessment by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

NCA4 is coming out on the heels of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C.

The report concluded that climate change could eventually cost the United States up to ten percent of its gross domestic product, while claiming thousands of lives in the process.

President Donald Trump has been a skeptic about climate change science - he tweeted in 2012 that the "concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make USA manufacturing non-competitive".

The US climate assessment - compiled with help from numerous US government agencies and departments - outlines the prospective impacts of climate change across every sector of American society.

That includes worsening air pollution causing heart and lung problems, more diseases from insects, the potential for a jump in deaths duringheat waves, and nastier allergies.

The Midwest region is expected to be hit the hardest, with higher temperatures, drought and flooding contributing to a decline in soybeans and corn - two of the Midwest's main commodities, the report said.

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 global climate conference in Poland around the same time. Low-income communities and communities of color, as well as indigenous peoples, often suffer most.

"With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century - more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many USA states", the report states. Since the global nature of food-system risk drew interest during the 2014 report discussions, researchers conducted deeper analysis "on things like the vulnerability of USA supply chains".

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"The U.S. food system is a globalized food system, and we import a lot", said Diana Liverman, a Regents' professor at the University of Arizona.

"Additional increases in annual average temperature of about 2.5 degrees F (1.4 degrees C) are expected over the next few decades regardless of future emissions, and increases ranging from 3 degrees F to 12 degrees F (1.6-6.6 degrees C) are expected by the end of century", the report said.

Friday's report seemed to anticipate such comments, saying: "Over shorter timescales and smaller geographic regions, the influence of natural variability can be larger than the influence of human activity ..."

Releasing the report on Black Friday "is 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", said study co-author Andrew Light, an global policy expert at the World Resources Institute.

Reporters questioned the timing of this year's release, which came on the Friday after Thanksgiving, a national holiday when many people are traveling and shopping.

Light said it's impossible not to conclude that the timing is meant to hide the report from public view.

The NCA4 further highlights the consequences of climate change that we are facing.

"We're putting a cost on inaction", explains Ekwurzel, referring to future global inaction to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.

What does the report say?