Climate change ‘will inflict substantial damages on US lives’
Oliver MilmanLast modified on Fri 23 Nov 2018 19.13 GMT
- ‘Impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country’
- Draft outlines claim current response to crisis is insufficient
Climate change is already harming Americans’ lives with “substantial damages” set to occur as global temperatures threaten to surge beyond internationally agreed limits, a major US government report is set to warn.
The influence of climate change is being felt across the US with increases in disastrous wildfires in the west, flooding on the east coast, soil loss in the midwest and coastal erosion in Alaska, a draft of the US national climate assessment states.
The draft outlines that “impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic wellbeing are rising.” Climate change-related risks “will continue to grow without additional action”, it adds.
The quadrennial report, the combined work of 13 federal agencies, is due to be released by the Trump administration on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Scientists who worked on the report said their research wasn’t watered down but claimed the release was timed to bury the findings during the holiday season.
Global temperatures could be limited to 2C above pre-industrial era if greenhouse gas emissions are slashed but “without significant reductions, annual average global temperatures could increase by 9F (5C) or more by the end of this century,” a previously released chapter states.
Even 2C warming is likely to have major ramifications for societies, as the recent IPCC report spelled out. Heating the planet well beyond this would create a “totally different world,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University. “It would be indescribable, it would turn the world upside down in terms of its climate. There would be nothing like it in the history of civilization.”
Oppenheimer, along with many other scientists, have said warming of around 3C is more likely given the advance of renewable energy and expected emissions reductions in the future. “That is more of an economic, political and technology question,” said a report author, who wished to remain unnamed. “It’s hard to say what we are on track for right now.”