Government climate change report says U.S. GDP under threat

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 79 views 

A new federal government report warned that human impact on the environment is warming the planet, causing harsher natural disasters, and could lead to unknown negative impacts on the national and world economies.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report is the Fourth National Climate Assessment mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) serves as the administrative lead agency for the preparation of the report.

“Annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century — more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states,” the report said.

Highlights from the report include:

– Global annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8°F (1.0°C) over the last 115 years (1901–2016). This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization.

– This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

– Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor.

– Global average sea level has risen by about 7–8 inches since 1900, with almost half (about 3 inches) of that rise occurring since 1993.

– Heatwaves have become more frequent in the United States since the 1960s, while extreme cold temperatures and cold waves are less frequent.

– The incidence of large forest fires in the western United States and Alaska has increased since the early 1980s and is projected to further increase in those regions as the climate changes, with profound changes to regional ecosystems.

– Annual trends toward earlier spring melt and reduced snowpack are already affecting water resources in the western United States and these trends are expected to continue.

– The global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration has now passed 400 parts per million (ppm), a level that last occurred about 3 million years ago, when both global average temperature and sea level were significantly higher than today.

– Continued growth in CO2 emissions over this century and beyond would lead to an atmospheric concentration not experienced in tens to hundreds of millions of years. There is broad consensus that the further and the faster the Earth system is pushed towards warming, the greater the risk of unanticipated changes and impacts, some of which are potentially large and irreversible.

“The physical and socioeconomic impacts of compound extreme events (such as simultaneous heat and drought, wildfires associated with hot and dry conditions, or flooding associated with high precipitation on top of snow or waterlogged ground) can be greater than the sum of the parts (very high confidence). Few analyses consider the spatial or temporal correlation between extreme events,” the report concluded.

You can access the report at this link.

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