White House Publishes Dire Climate Change Report

A report commissioned by the White House was handed down by a group of federal scientists stating a set of dire consequences if the U.S. fails to diverge from its current fossil fuel-backed economy. The moderate economic projection is a $280-billion annual hit to the economy, while the most severe projection outlines a $500-billion a year hit to the US economy; taking into account property damages, crop damage, loss of worker productivity and increased sickness and death from air pollution and following wildfires.

One of the key projections is that global warming could do more damage to the US economy by the turn of the century equal to two of the Great Recessions.

“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 U.S. states.” The report says.

According to the report, “the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to American’s physical, social and economic well-being are rising.”

Key findings of the 1,600 page Congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment (NCA) can be viewed here, and builds upon last year’s 600-page report stating the consequences of inaction on renewables and sustainable means of energy production.

The report outlines two possibilities, the first: the RCP 4.5-scenario, which makes predictions based on a country’s ability to stick to the mandates of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. The second - and more disastrous set of projections - is more or less based on rampant consumption and disregard of the Paris agreement that could lead to irreversible damage to the globe’s climate.

Graphic taken from the NCA report Tweeted by Robert Rohde, lead scientist of Berkeley Earth.

Dismissing any ambiguity as to the cause of the earth’s warming, the NCA says “the impacts and costs of climate change are already being felt in the United States, and changes in the likelihood or severity of some recent extreme weather events can now be attributed with increasingly higher confidence to human-caused warming.”

In terms of responses, The NCA outlines that “while mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.”

The White House has since released an official statement on the report while speaking to the BBC, with a spokesperson attempting to downplay the severity of its findings. “[The report is] largely based on the most extreme scenario, which contradicts long-established trends by assuming that... there would be limited technology and innovation, and a rapidly expanding population.”

At its conclusion, the report stated that if governments that are part of the 2016 Paris Climate deal stick to their obligations – and exceed them – the overall damage can be limited to a 4°F. However, using he RCP 8.5 formula, catastrophic impacts “would be inevitable, where temperatures rise by 7°F.” If these are to take place, “it is very likely that some physical and ecological impacts will be irreversible for thousands of years, while others will be permanent.”

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