The report is the Fourth National Climate Change Assessment, and it has been issued by the National Climate Assessment, which is a U.S. government interagency ongoing effort on climate change science. The activities are conducted under the auspices of the Global Change Research Act of 1990. Various federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences review the data and the report’s conclusions, ahead of issue.
Drastic action required
The 1,500-page report examines the climate and economic impacts U.S. residents should expect if drastic action is not taken to address climate change. The report makes for bleak reading: long term human, societal, and economic costs of climate change will continue to rise, leading to more wildfires and flooding, should greenhouse gas emissions to continue unchecked. Add to this storms and heat waves. Speaking with The Verge, Gary Yohe, a professor of economics and environmental studies at Wesleyan University says succinctly: “It’s an awful lot of what we already knew, just amplified and strengthened.”
Think locally, act globally
The fourth edition has been released in two volumes, with volume one coming out in October 2017, and volume two – entitled “Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States” – issued on November 23, 2018. Volume one focused more on the science of climate change (and unsurprisingly concluded that climate change is real); volume two focuses on the impact now and in the future.
A key quote from volume two is that: “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.”
This also means considerable economic impact. So far agriculture, health, tourism, fisheries, energy, transportation, infrastructure, and businesses have been hit over the past few decades. As an example, $1 trillion dollars of public infrastructure and private property along the U.S. coastline remains at risk due to rising seas, increasing storm surges, and tidal flooding, according to the World Resources Institute.
The report makes clear the need for action by government and businesses. Brenda Ekwurzel, who is the director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists comments: “This report makes it clear that climate change is not some problem in the distant future. It’s happening right now in every part of the country. When people say the wildfires, hurricanes and heat waves they’re experiencing are unlike anything they’ve seen before, there’s a reason for that, and it’s called climate change.”