Government climate report warns of worsening US disasters

Fire damaged vehicles and destroyed property are seen on Sierra Creek Road in Agoura Hills, California on November 15, 2018. - Much of the area remains closed to residents one week after the Woolsey Fire started. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — As California’s catastrophic wildfires recede and people rebuild after two hurricanes, a massive new federal report warns that these types of extreme weather disasters are worsening in the United States. The White House report quietly issued Friday also frequently contradicts President Donald Trump.

The National Climate Assessment was written long before the deadly fires in California this month and Hurricanes Florence and Michael raked the East Coast and Florida. It says warming-charged extremes “have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration.”

The federal report says the last few years have smashed records for damaging weather in the U.S., costing nearly $400 billion since 2015. “Warmer and drier conditions have contributed to an increase in large forest fires in the western United States and interior Alaska,” according to the report.

“We are seeing the things we said would be happening, happen now in real life,” said report co-author Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University. “As a climate scientist it is almost surreal.”

And report co-author Donald Wuebbles, a University of Illinois climate scientist, said, “We’re going to continue to see severe weather events get stronger and more intense.”

The air pollution from wildfires combined with heat waves is a major future health risk for the West, the report says. During the fires in northern California, air quality hit “hazardous” levels, according to government air monitoring agencies.

“There’s real concern about how the West will be able to manage this increasing occurrence,” said report co-author Kristie Ebi, a University of Washington public health professor. She said global warming is already harming people’s health, but it will only get worse.

The report is mandated by law every few years and is based on hundreds of previously research studies. It details how global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas is hurting each region of United States and how it impacts different sectors of the economy, including energy and agriculture.

“Climate change is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us,” the report says.

That includes worsening air pollution causing heart and lung problems, more diseases from insects, the potential for a jump in deaths during heat waves, and nastier allergies.

What makes the report different from others is that it focuses on the United States, then goes more local and granular.

“All climate change is local,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Richard Alley, who wasn’t part of the report but praised it.

While scientists talk of average global temperatures, people feel extremes more, he said.

“We live in our drought, our floods and our heat waves. That means we have to focus on us,” he said.

The Lower 48 states have warmed 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) since 1900 with 1.2 degrees in the last few decades, according to the repot. By the end of the century, the U.S. will be 3 to 12 degrees (1.6 to 6.6 degrees Celsius) hotter depending on how much greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, the report warns.

Outside scientists and officials from 13 federal agencies wrote the report, which was released on the afternoon following Thanksgiving. It was originally scheduled for December. The report often clashes with the president’s past statements and tweets on the legitimacy of climate change science, how much of it is caused by humans, how cyclical it is and what’s causing increases in recent wildfires.

Trump tweeted this week about the cold weather hitting the East including: “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS – Whatever happened to Global Warming?”

Friday’s report seemed to anticipate such comments, saying: “Over shorter timescales and smaller geographic regions, the influence of natural variability can be larger than the influence of human activity … Over climate timescales of multiple decades, however, global temperature continues to steadily increase.”

Releasing the report on Black Friday “is a transparent attempt by the Trump Administration to bury this report and continue the campaign of not only denying but suppressing the best of climate science,” said study co-author Andrew Light, an international policy expert at the World Resources Institute.

Trump, administration officials and elected Republicans frequently say they can’t tell how much of climate change is caused by humans and how much is natural.
Citing numerous studies, the new climate report says more than 90 percent of the current warming is caused by humans. Without greenhouse gases, natural forces — such as changes in energy from the sun — would be slightly cooling Earth.

“There are no credible alternative human or natural explanations supported by the observational evidence,” the report says.

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8 comments

  • nickreality65

    Politics, money, peer pressure and the lying, fact-free, fake news media’s censorship (BBC) have completely corrupted science. Climate change hysteria mongering has turned science, engineering and economics into full time bullshit factories.

    The Radiative Green House Effect theory contains a fatal flaw.

    For RGHE to perform as advertised requires the earth’s surface to radiate upwelling LWIR as an ideal black body, i.e. 1.0 emissivity at 16 C, 289 K, 396 W/m^2. (TFK_bams09)

    The contiguous presence of atmospheric molecules participating in non-radiative heat transfers through conduction, convection, latent renders impossible such BB LWIR, the effective surface emissivity being 0.16, i.e. actual 63 W/m^2 / ideal 396 W/m^2.

    The LWIR upwelling 396 W/m^2 does not exist – the 333 W/m^2 GHG energy loop “warming” the surface and atmosphere does not exist – and the global warming and climate changes that are attributed to carbon dioxide do not exist.

    https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6466699347852611584

  • Unslaved

    The sun is in a period of low activity so the world is getting colder. No “impending disaster” ever warrants giving government power. They won’t fix the problem you gave them “the power” to fix and you’ll end up in a police state.

  • DaMailman

    More people moving into areas where hurricanes, forest fires etc. occur regularly. Could that the reason these natural disasters are getting so expensive?

  • We the people

    Blah blah blah blah blah,same old blah blah story they can’t really even explain, global warming something that they can’t fix but let’s legalize pot that will fix that problem, more problems, higher taxation to fix what they created and more deaths, that my friends is who is talking

  • Bud

    Yeah, right. Climate scientists account for the TWO hurricanes that struck eastern U.S., but ignore the record number of YEARS BEFORE where not one hurricane struck the coast. And they NEVER acknowledge the damage wacko environmentalists cause by preventing common sense forestry practices from being implemented.

  • Hillary

    So now they want you to believe that the California wild fires are global warming!
    The madness of it! How about pinning the blame for this squarely where it belongs, poor forestry management. For years California has been warned, and they do nothing about it, as the problem get worse. Now their lack of action is tied to their flawed narrative. You can keep changing the name from global warming to climate change, climate shift, you can call it whatever you want, but there is no real scientific proof of man made global warming. So it’s opinion, nothing more.

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