Climate change could cost US 'hundreds of billions' a year: study

November 24, 2018 by Kerry Sheridan
Climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth, according to a major new study

Climate change is already hurting the global economy and will cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars annually by century's end unless drastic action is taken to cut carbon emissions, a major US government report warned on Friday.

"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 US states," the latest edition of the National Climate Assessment said.

"Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century," it added.

The effects will spill over into global trade, affecting import and export prices and US businesses with overseas operations and supply chains, it added.

Some of these impacts are already being felt in the United States, the report said, and recent extreme weather and climate-related events can now be attributed "with increasingly higher confidence to human-caused warming."

Compiled by more than 300 scientists, the Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II is a congressionally mandated report that spans more than 1,000 pages.

US President Donald Trump dismissed last year's report, and just this week appeared to confuse weather with climate when he tweeted: "Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS - Whatever happened to Global Warming?"

Global warming prediction for 2100

Trump also yanked the United States out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord, signed by more than 190 nations to limit .

David Easterling, director of the technical support unit at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Environmental Information, said there had been "no external interference" in the report.

Scientists found "clear and compelling evidence that global average temperature is much higher and is rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has experienced," he told reporters.

"And this warming trend can only be explained by human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."

Cascading effects

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.

A NOAA spokeswoman said the report was "out earlier than expected" and was released ahead of two major scientific meetings on climate change in the coming weeks.

The effects of climate change, such as the flooding seen in North Carolina during Hurricane Florence in September 2018, will get worse unless more drastic action is taken to cut carbon emissions, a major US government report warned

Meanwhile, the report warned that even if major cuts are made to harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs) like carbon dioxide and methane, the damage will linger for years.

"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.

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 US economy."

The report said it was "very likely that some physical and ecological impacts will be irreversible for thousands of years, while others will be permanent."

The publication is designed to inform policy makers but does not make any specific recommendations on actions to take.

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

Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said the economic warning shows that "policymakers can no longer afford to dismiss or ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence of ."

Explore further: Government climate report warns of worsening US disasters

Related Stories

Government climate report warns of worsening US disasters

November 23, 2018

As California's catastrophic wildfires recede and people rebuild after two hurricanes, a massive new federal report warns that these types of disasters are worsening in the United States because of global warming. The White ...

Recommended for you

Oceans of garbage prompt war on plastics

December 15, 2018

Faced with images of turtles smothered by plastic bags, beaches carpeted with garbage and islands of trash floating in the oceans, environmentalists say the world is waking up to the need to tackle plastic pollution at the ...

A damming trend

December 14, 2018

Hundreds of dams are being proposed for Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia. The negative social and environmental consequences—affecting everything from food security to the environment—greatly outweigh the positive ...

Data from Kilauea suggests the eruption was unprecedented

December 14, 2018

A very large team of researchers from multiple institutions in the U.S. has concluded that the Kilauea volcanic eruption that occurred over this past summer represented an unprecedented volcanic event. In their paper published ...

The long dry: global water supplies are shrinking

December 13, 2018

A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like ...

Death near the shoreline, not life on land

December 13, 2018

Our understanding of when the very first animals started living on land is helped by identifying trace fossils—the tracks and trails left by ancient animals—in sedimentary rocks that were deposited on the continents.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rrwillsj
4 / 5 (4) Nov 24, 2018
This is were you see the fraud of self-proclaimed "conservatives"
and the fakery of self- proclaimed "libertarians"
and the false fronts masking the fascism of the self-proclaimed "capitalist".

Instead of supporting the profitable opportunities for meeting the National and Global needs of new infrastructure to mitigate the ongoing disasters caused by Global Climate Change?

The deniers shrilly demand that everyone should do nothing. Ignore the evidence of our own life experiences. The deniers especially try to sabotage scientific research providing the data we all will use to make decisions on what we need to do.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
3 / 5 (2) Nov 26, 2018
@rrwilliejoe
Why haven't you bought your plane tickets to Venezuela yet? Or Cuba? I'm certain that Communist China will gladly welcome you - and even teach you how to cook Chinese meals?
What? You would much rather stay in the US to wait and see the US become a Communist country also? Oh, you would settle for the US to become Socialist first BEFORE tossing out the old US Constitution and everything that makes it American?
But, with all the bitching that you do about American Capitalism, Conservatives, Libertarians, and anything that makes America great - you really REALLY should hop on a plane to Cuba or Venezuela. They will forgive you if you don't speak Spanish, at first.
You could crowdsource for the plane fare if you don't have the money for a one-way plane ticket, rrwilliejoe.
You will be SO MUCH BETTER OFF in a Commie country that will suit your style and your political views.
You should go, rrwilliejoe. You would be so much happier in your new home. Adios Amigo.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.