By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – The congressionally-mandated Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) was released in the middle of the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend and shows a huge economic and humanitarian toll to pay for the changes in the earth’s climate.
The report details how climate change is expected to hurt the American economy by causing more damage to natural resources and infrastructure, including access to roads, the viability of bridges and the safety of pipelines.
The federal report says the last few years have smashed records for damaging weather in the U.S., costing nearly $400 billion since 2015.
The NCA4 is the culmination of work by the U.S. government and scientists from a variety of sectors to provide the U.S. public with the state of the science on climate change, the impacts that it is currently having on the country, and those that are likely to manifest.
The report also provides information on the measures that the country can take both to cope with current and coming impacts and to lower global warming emissions – this information can aid in risk assessments and help prevent the most dangerous impacts of climate change.
As the report is a scientific assessment, it does not provide policy recommendations. Instead, it provides decision-makers with objective information that they can use to decide how to best protect their constituents.
The summary explains, “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.”
“The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future — but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.
There are some Trump-administration critics that question why the report came out on Friday, November 23rd – in the middle of the holiday. In a statement released today, former Vice President Al Gore criticized the timing of the report’s release.
“Unbelievably deadly and tragic wildfires rage in the west, hurricanes batter our coasts — and the Trump administration chooses the Friday after Thanksgiving to try and bury this critical U.S. assessment of the climate crisis,” he said. “The President may try to hide the truth, but his own scientists and experts have made it as stark and clear as possible.”
The NCA4 also states, “Climate-related risks will continue to grow without additional action. Decisions made today determine risk exposure for current and future generations and will either broaden or limit options to reduce the negative consequences of climate change.”
“While Americans are responding in ways that can bolster resilience and improve livelihoods, neither global efforts to mitigate the causes of climate change nor regional efforts to adapt to the impacts currently approach the scales needed to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.”