Climate Change Is Harming Economy, Report Says

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from The Wall Street Journal,

White House Says Urgent Action Needed; Report Details Effects in Every State.

Water splashes over the Center Street Dam in the swollen Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines-2013

Climate change is having a present-day, negative impact on Americans’ everyday lives and damaging the U.S. economy, as extreme weather brings flooding, droughts and other disasters to every region in the country, a federal advisory committee has concluded.

The congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment, produced by more than 300 experts overseen by a panel of 60 scientists, concludes that the nation has already suffered billions of dollars in damages from severe weather-related disruptions, which it says will continue to get worse.

The document, considered the most comprehensive analysis of the effects of climate change on the U.S., is to be released by the climate advisory panel after a final vote Tuesday morning. President Barack Obama plans to use the report to bring public attention to climate change-related problems and will promote it in a series of events this week calling for action to combat the trend.

“The findings in this National Climate Assessment underscore the need for urgent action to combat the threats from climate change, protect American citizens and communities today, and build a sustainable future for our kids and grandkids,” the White House said.

The report, by the Federal National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee, details the effects of climate change on every state in the country and every sector of the economy, from rapidly receding ice in Alaska to heat waves and coastal flooding in the Northeast. Rising seas in the South put major cities such as Miami at risk, it says.

The report says it isn’t too late to implement policies to reduce the carbon emissions that cause greenhouse gases and calls on governments at all levels to find ways to lower emissions, particularly from energy production. The report also emphasizes adaptation—the notion that society needs to find ways to prepare for and adjust to some of the changes.

The last climate assessment, released in 2009, said generally that climate change is affecting the country. The new report, Mr. Wuebbles said, shows how further shifts in each area could hurt sectors of the economy such as transportation or force local populations to move.

The White House campaign to publicize the report will include eight television meteorologists. Americans feel “comfortable” with local weather reporters, who can discuss climate-change warnings without being politicized, said an administration official. The president will do one-on-one interviews Tuesday with NBC Today Show co-anchor Al Roker and ABC Good Morning America’s Ginger Zee, as well as some regional weathercasters, said the official.

Several authors said the strong warnings in the assessment weren’t presented to “scare” people, but to convey the importance of preparation and mitigation in, for example, U.S. ports.

But the report will almost certainly generate pushback from conservatives, some who say that proposed mitigation measures cost business too much and will hurt the nation’s economic recovery, and others who say it exaggerates the problem altogether.

The Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank that questions climate change, said in a statement on its website Sunday that the administration’s report “consistently reaches overly pessimistic conclusions.” Its senior environmental expert, James Taylor, said in an interview Tuesday morning, “Keep in mind that this is a report produced for and with the Obama White House.”

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