Climate change: Report warns of growing impact on US life

Climate change: Report warns of growing impact on US life

  • 23 November 2018
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The report warns that the frequency of wildfires could increase if climate change is unchecked

Unchecked climate change will cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars and damage human health and quality of life, a US government report warns.

"Future risks from climate change depend... on decisions made today," the 4th National Climate Assessment says.

The report says climate change is "presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth".

The warning is at odds with the Trump administration's fossil fuels agenda.

The world's leading scientists agree that climate change is human-induced and warn that natural fluctuations in temperature are being exacerbated by human activity.

What does the report say?

The US climate assessment - compiled with help from numerous US government agencies and departments - outlines the prospective impacts of climate change across every sector of American society.

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"With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, 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 US states," the report says.

"Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century."

The report notes that the effects of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country, including more frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events.

But it says that projections of future catastrophe could change if society works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and "to adapt to the changes that will occur".

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Media captionClimate change: How 1.5C could change the world

What reaction has there been?

Environmental groups said the report underlined their demands for action.

Brenda Ekwurzel, director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists and one of the report's authors, said the report made it clear that climate change was not "some problem in the distant future".

"It's happening right now in every part of the country," she said.

What does President Trump say about climate change?

In October, President Trump accused climate change scientists of having a "political agenda", telling Fox News he was unconvinced that humans were responsible for the earth's rising temperatures.

After taking office he announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement, which commits another 187 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures "well below" 2C above pre-industrial levels.

At the time, Mr Trump said he wanted to negotiate a new "fair" deal that would not disadvantage US businesses and workers.

Earlier this week, the US president appeared to deride the idea of climate change in a tweet about the weather.