Weather-driven disasters are happening more frequently and are costing the country $150 billion on average each year, according to a new federal report.
The National Climate Assessment, published every few years as ordered by Congress and compiled by numerous federal agencies, shows a nation whose economy, environment and public health are facing growing threats as the temperature of the world increases.
The report emphasized risks from climate change are becoming more visible. This year, the nation has seen devastating wildfires in Maui, destructive flooding in Vermont, unprecedented and deadly heat worldwide, and a blanket of thick smoke in New York and other East Coast cities from record-breaking wildfires in Canada.
“The effects of human-caused climate change are already far-reaching and worsening across every region of the United States,” the authors stated, while also emphasizing how climate-driven catastrophes often overlap that cause an increase in cost and burden.
In the 1980s, on average, weather-related disasters were responsible for at least $1 billion in damages, adjusted for inflation, and only occurred about three times a year, the report found. According to the NOAA, between 2018 and 2022, the nation averaged 18 such catastrophes a year.
The report notes that these extremely dire consequences are not inevitable, and that society has the ability to decide what happens. Although dangers have become more evident, so have the efforts by governments and communities to respond to these issues, the report states.
The rich and their pollution
Under President Joe Biden, Congress approved the Inflation Reduction Act, a budget for efforts to make the nation more weather-ready, as well as make a quicker transition from fossil fuels. The Biden also administration highlighted that there are signs of progress, including solar energy cost falling by 90 percent over the past decade, and 80 percent of new electricity generation capacity coming from renewable sources in 2020.
“Each increment of warming that the world avoids … reduces the risks and harmful impacts of climate change,” the report states.
However, the United States and other developed nations still remain far from hitting their long-term climate goals. Biden Administration officials have emphasized that states, communities and many parts of the private sector are taking action in order to confront the impacts of climate change as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The report shows the link between society and climate change, and demonstrates how events in one part of the nation can have an impact around the world.
“The world says, What we are becoming, we are becoming together,” U.S. poet laureate Ada Limón wrote in a poem included in the assessment. “The world says, Once we were separate, and now we must move in unison.”
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