By: Paul Hunter, Practicum Reporter
Despite years of scientists’ warnings, the United States has neglected to make combatting climate change a priority. According to the National Climate Assessment, a report released by the government, the United States is headed for economic, health, and environmental disaster by 2100. The report also clarified the role of humans in climate change and highlighted recent events that were exacerbated by the effects of climate change.
For the past 12 years, scientists have measured the effects of climate change to predict the outcomes of current degradation. The report is released every four years. This year, the report, which was commissioned by the Administration, paints a bleak picture. In the first paragraph of the report summary, it states, “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.” The following section highlights the ways climate change disproportionately affects the poor and marginalized around the world.
Released on the popular American holiday called Black Friday, the report has been scrutinized by some as having been buried. Al Gore, former Vice President and creator of the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” called out President Donald Trump on Twitter saying, “The President may try to hide the truth, but his own scientists and experts have made it as stark and clear as possible.”
The release of the report follows comments by Trump claiming that forest fires in California are happening more often because the National Forest Service fails to rake its forests.
Just before the release of the climate assessment, Trump posted on twitter, “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS - Whatever happened to Global Warming?” The tweet has close to 30,000 retweets and 115,000 likes.
The climate assessment describes climate change’s effects on communities, the economy, water, health, indigenous peoples, ecosystem services, agriculture, infrastructure, oceans and coasts, and tourism and recreation. It links them all together in a final section titled “Interconnected Impacts.” In this section, the report shows how all effects are not singular; they are all interconnected and affect one-another.
The report predicts that annual deaths due to climate change will rise to the thousands by 2100. It also calculates the economic impacts of climate change on the United States, claiming that losses due to climate change will increase from the current $280 billion to $500 billion per year if we remain on the current path. On a local level, the report predicts detrimental impacts on the water supply for the West. Lake Meade has already witnessed a 60 percent loss in volume since the turn of the millennium.
The National Climate Assessment ended the report with recommendations on strategies, claiming that local governments will be the primary drivers of the green movement and adaptation. It addresses perceived challenges with potential solutions. From much of the content, it’s clear the biggest challenge for policy-makers will be getting taxpayers to agree to costly, but necessary adaptation policy.