Climate change is already here: 8 things to know from dire new U.S. climate report

An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on November 15, 2018 in Paradise, California. A new report on climate change predicts rising temperatures will fuel more intense and numerous wildfires, not just in the West, but in the Southeast, too.

Credit: Justin Sullivan

Credit: Justin Sullivan

An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on November 15, 2018 in Paradise, California. A new report on climate change predicts rising temperatures will fuel more intense and numerous wildfires, not just in the West, but in the Southeast, too.

Climate change is already impacting the U.S., it has already cost billions of dollars in economic damages and it will massively impact the U.S. economy in the future, reducing gross domestic product by 10 percent by 2100 if left unchecked, according to a dire new report released Friday by 13 government agencies.

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"The Fourth National Climate Assessment" report details in a comprehensive 1,656-page document the devastating consequences of rising global temperatures on the economy, human health and the environment.

The Trump administration quietly released the new report a month early and on Black Friday, when most Americans are enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends and are likely not paying as much attention to the news.

President Donald Trump has often called climate change “a hoax” in the past, and even this week, he tweeted about it again, citing a record cold temperature on Thanksgiving morning as more proof that it’s not happening.

However, this latest report starkly details what scientists predict will happen by the end of the century, and in some cases is already happening, if temperatures continue rising.

"There is a bizarre contrast between this report, which is being released by this administration, and this administration's own policies," Philip B. Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center, told The New York Times.

The report stated that the Earth's climate is now changing faster than at any previous point in modern history and that humans are to blame. The impacts are already being felt in the United States through more powerful storms, more severe and damaging wildfires and increased flooding.

"The global average temperature is much higher and is rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has experienced, and this warming trend can only be explained by human activities," said David Easterling, the director of the Technical Support Unit at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Centers for Environmental Information, according to CNN.

However, the report said the severity of the impact of climate change will also depend on how the country addresses greenhouse gas emissions and how it adapts to rising temperatures moving forward.

Here are eight takeaways from the report:

1- Increasing greenhouse gas emissions are already impacting the planet’s climate. High temperature extremes and heavy precipitation events are increasing. Glaciers and snow cover are shrinking, and sea ice is retreating. Seas are rising, causing more frequent flooding along the U.S. coastline, and wildfires are increasing in frequency and severity. These changes are all signs of a warming world.

2- More frequent and extreme weather-related events are expected to continue damaging critical infrastructure, private property, ecosystems and social systems that communities rely on. Scientists predict in the future, climate change will cause more poverty, economic inequality and deteriorating infrastructure.

3- Climate change will impact economic growth in the U.S., beginning this century. Rising temperatures are predicted to reduce the efficiency of power generation, while increasing demand will drive up electricity costs. Annual losses in some economic sectors could reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century, more than the current gross domestic product of many states.

4- Climate change is expected to have an interconnected impact, meaning stresses on one system, like water resources, could affect other critical systems, such as food production and distribution, energy and transportation, public health, international trade and national security.

5- “Future risks from climate change depend primarily on decisions made today,” the report said. Communities, businesses and governments are working to reduce the risks and costs associated with climate change through strategies to lower greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to conditions. However, these strategies need to be implemented on a much larger scale to avoid adverse impacts on human health, the economy and the environment in the coming decades.

6- Climate change is already affecting water resources across the country. Rising temperatures are causing more intense droughts, increasing heavy downpours and reducing snowpack, which replenishes lakes and rivers. This is adding to the stress on water supplies and will impact water availability in parts of the country in the future.

7- Rising temperatures will affect human health in the future as air quality decreases and disease transmission increases. Heat-related deaths are also projected to increase.

8- Climate change will impact agriculture on a wide scale in the future, with major declines in crop yields, adverse effects on livestock health and a diminishing economic vitality in rural communities.