Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#ClimateFriday: How climate change is affecting communities and industries in the US

Did you miss it? The fourth Climate Assessmment Report was released on Black Friday, giving the day another meaning. This report is the fourth in a series, thanks to George Bush Sr. and Congress requiring 13 Federal agencies to study the issue starting in 1990. This report focuses on how climate change is already affecting communities and critical industries and how those effects  will intensify into the future. It also talks about what is being done and needs to be done.

To give you a sense of the scope of the report, the summary itself covers agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, among other industries, and its impacts on ecosystems and human health. The report has chapters on each region in the US and chapters on what can be done. There are some cool interactive charts.

One part I think is important is that the report talks about the costs of inaction. To date, the politics can be characterized as “believe it or not” which has delayed action. Talking about the costs of inaction reframe the conversation toward the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

In the absence of more significant global mitigation efforts, climate change is projected to impose substantial damages on the U.S. economy, human health, and the environment. Under scenarios with high emissions and limited or no adaptation, annual losses in some sectors are estimated to grow to hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century. It is very likely that some physical and ecological impacts will be irreversible for thousands of years, while others will be permanent.

Here’s a link to the report, which includes a summary for those who don’t need to get into the weeds. https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/

Here’s a National Geographic article about the report for those who just want a quick once-over:

For those of us in the Southwest, here’s a summary of the findings for us, including some interesting charts showing declining Colorado River flows

and the amount of forest fires directly attributable to climate change. https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/chapter/25/

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