23 November 2018   1 comment

U.S. Global Change Research Program released its fourth report today.  The report is the joint enterprise of 13 Federal Agencies with substantial roles in investigating climate change and this report is about 1,600 pages long.  Congress mandated these reports in 1990 and required reports every four years.  USA Today summarizes one of the main points of the report: “The last few years have smashed records for damaging weather in the United States, costing nearly $400 billion since 2015. In a worst-case scenario, the researchers say, climate change could deliver a 10 percent hit to the nation’s GDP by the end of the century.”  Alexander Kaufman and Chris D’Angelo put the report in the context of previous studies:

“Last year, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released a special report―the first volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment―that found Earth has entered the warmest period “in the history of modern civilization,” with global average air temperatures having increased by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 115 years. And in October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading United Nations consortium of researchers studying human-caused climate change, issued a report warning world governments must cut global emissions in half over the next 12 years to avoid warming of 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit, beyond which climate change is forecast to cause a cataclysmic $54 trillion in damages.”

The report is a significant rebuff to US President Trump who tweeted just a few days ago, “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS – Whatever happened to Global Warming?”  It is therefore no accident that the report, which was scheduled to be released in December, was released today, perhaps the slowest news day of any year.  The Guardian summarizes some of the main points of the report:

  • The summary states the “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 impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future.”
  • Average sea levels along the US coast have increased by around 9in since the early 20th century as the oceans have warmed and land ice has melted. If emissions are not constrained, “many coastal communities will be transformed by the latter part of this century”.
  • Fisheries, tourism, human health and public safety are being “transformed, degraded or lost due in part to climate change impacts, particularly sea level rise and higher numbers of extreme weather events”.
  • Wildfires have burned at least 3.7m acres in the US in all but three years from 2000 to 2016. “More frequent and larger wildfires, combined with increasing development at the wildland-urban interface portend increasing risks to property and human life,” the report states.
  • More than 100m people in the US live in places with poor air quality and climate change will “worsen existing air pollution levels”. Increased wildfire smoke risks heightening respiratory and cardiovascular problems, while the prevalence of asthma and hay fever is also likely to rise.
  • Major groundwater supplies have declined over the last century, with this decrease accelerating since 2001. “Significant changes in water quantity and quality are evident across the country,” the report finds.
  • Climate change will “disrupt many areas of life” by hurting the US economy, affecting trade and exacerbating overseas conflicts. Low-income and marginalized communities will be worst hit.

It will be very interesting to gauge the response of the public to the report and to listen carefully whether the Trump Administration makes any comment on a major report by its own scientists.

Posted November 23, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

One response to “23 November 2018

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  1. Pingback: 27 November 2018 | World Politics News

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