Federal government releases alarming
Photo By: United States Department of Agriculture
Julia Guerrein, Editor-in-Chief
A scientific report was issued Friday by 13 federal agencies and details the consequences of climate change in the U.S. The report covers 12 major points of aspects of society that will be heavily influenced by climate change, especially as it worsens over time. It also can be looked at by region. The report was required by Congress and made public by the White House. This is the second volume of the National Climate Assessment, with the first being released last year.
The first section outlined in the report is titled “Communities.” Overall, this section explains how “climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.” It emphasizes that communities that are already vulnerable, such as lower-income communities, are going to have a more difficult time preparing and coping for extreme weather and climate events. According to the report, protecting these populations should be a priority and aiding them would help create a more equitable country.
The second section was devoted to explaining the economic impacts that climate change will have, including cutting the GDP by a tenth by 2100.
“In the absence of significant global mitigation action and regional adaptation efforts, rising temperatures, sea level rise, and changes in extreme events are expected to increasingly disrupt and damage critical infrastructure and property, labor productivity, and the vitality of our communities,” reads the report. It also details that industries that depend on natural resources and specific weather conditions, such as tourism and agriculture, are particularly at risk because of climate change.
Trade is also expected to be impacted, with both import and export prices being affected. Climate change is expected to disrupt supply chains, especially because of an increase in extreme weather events such as hurricanes and wildfires, therefore hurting the way that goods move from one place to another.
The impacts on access to water and agriculture were also included as main points. Water resources are already strained, and increased global temperatures will exacerbate this while having economic, agricultural, energy, industry, recreational, and environmental consequences. Besides the impacts directly from climate change, humans have also altered the hydrologic cycle, which further hurts access to water. Similarly, access to food is threatened by changes to seasons and growing seasons, amount of rainfall, average temperatures, water availability, soil erosion, and outbreaks of diseases and pests. All of these factors combined will result in a decrease in yield, and therefore less food.
Human health is closely tied to the state of the environment, so increasing environmental risks will only hurt humans. Climate change is expected to worsen air quality, transmission of disease from insects, pests, food, and water, and climate-related events, such as extreme heat and cold. The frequency and severity of allergies, including asthma, are also expected to increase as climate change continues.
The other main points of the report include impacts to indigenous peoples, ecosystems and ecosystem services, infrastructure, oceans and coasts, and tourism and recreation.
Three main solutions were proposed by the authors of the report: put a price on greenhouse gas emissions, regulate how much greenhouse pollution can be emitted, and spend public money on researching clean energy.
As expected, the Trump Administration is continuing on as planned with environmental deregulation and denouncing science.
“There is a bizarre contrast between this report, which is being released by the administration, and this administration’s own policies,” said Philip B. Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center, according to the New York Times.
On a number of occasions, as recently as last week when Trump tweeted “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS- Whatever happened to Global Warming?”, the president has been known to mock and question science and scientists. Although the president does not believe in modern science, the administration is still legally responsible to follow facts, especially when they are released by the federal government.
“This report will weaken the Trump administration’s legal case for undoing climate change regulations, and it strengthens the hands of those who go to court to fight them,” said Michael Oppeneheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton, reported the New York Times.
Although there are many detrimental effects of climate change that are being caused to the environment and ecosystems, the report focused mostly on what will happen to humans and the resources humans need if climate change continues to worsen. Even though the current administration is paying little attention to science and climate change, this report is a powerful tool against the Trump administration’s slashing of regulations and for leaders throughout the U.S. to address climate change.
The full report can be found at nca2018.globalchange.gov