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December 11, 2018

Report warns climate change will cost U.S. hundreds of billions with damage ‘irreversible for thousands of years’

November 23, 2018
In this Sept. 17, 2018 file photo, floodwaters from Hurricane Florence surrounds homes in Dillon, S.C. Scientists say climate change likely boosted rainfall totals for both Florence and 2017’s Harvey. (Gerald Herbert / AP)

Left unchecked, global warming will cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars by century’s end, a major report issued Friday by more than a dozen federal agencies warned.

Mandated by Congress, the report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program said that unless “significant global mitigation action” is taken, regional industries tied to climate — such as agriculture, tourism and fishing — will suffer extreme consequences.




Higher temperatures will bring increased risk of devastating wildfires, mass flooding, crop failures, extreme rainfall and pest and disease outbreaks, the report found.

The wild weather will damage already crumbling local infrastructure, cause widespread disruption to people’s lives and stress social systems, the report said.

“Rising temperatures are projected to reduce the efficiency of power generation while increasing energy demands, resulting in higher electricity costs,” the report found.

“The impacts of climate change beyond our borders are expected to increasingly affect our trade and economy, including import and export prices and U.S. businesses with overseas operations and supply chains,” the report said.

The dire findings stand in stark contrast to President Trump’s stated doubts about climate change, his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and his push to roll back domestic environmental protections.

Just this week, Trump sneered at climate science in a Wednesday Twitter post highlighting frigid temperatures in the Northeast.

“Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS – Whatever happened to Global Warming?” he said in the tweet.

He also recently blamed an outbreak of deadly wildfires in California on forest mismanagement, with no mention of the historic drought conditions cited by experts.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” he tweeted Nov. 10.

According to the scientific report released Friday, the risk of inaction is severe.

“It is very likely that some physical and ecological impacts will be irreversible for thousands of years, while others will be permanent,” the report stated.

The report said “substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” will be critical.

“Fossil fuel combustion accounts for approximately 85% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with agriculture, land-cover change, industrial processes and methane from fossil fuel extraction and processing as well as from waste (including landfills, wastewater treatment, and composting) accounting for most of the remainder,” the report said.

It urged immediate action, such as increased use of natural gas in place of coal and the expansion of wind and solar energy to generate electricity.




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