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7 takeaways from the National Climate Assessment

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By Ashley Montgomery

Gwen Ifill Fellow

The federal government’s newest National Climate Assessment (NCA) presents dire warnings about the current and future impact of climate change on the environment and the economy.

The White House is required by law to release the NCA every four years. President Trump rejected the findings of the sobering report.  On Monday, he told reporters, “I don’t believe it.”

Here are the key findings from the 1600+ page scientific report that was compiled by 13 federal agencies:

  1. $500 Billion: The estimated annual economic losses due to “crop damage, lost labor, and extreme weather.” This is more than double the losses of the 2000s Great Recession.
  2. Trade and agriculture will be impacted the most. This means prices could spike on everything from fruit to electronics.
  3. More heat-related deaths. Scientists predict more heat waves, droughts, and an increase in wildfires in California as well as the Southeast and Southwest which will increase air pollution.
  4. Rising sea levels will increase coastal flooding and erosion. In some states like Alaska, coastal communities would be forced to relocate inland.
  5. Increase in the spread of infectious diseases. Warmer climates facilitate a faster transmission of infections like Zika virus, bird flu, and other deadly diseases.
  6. Crops grown in the Midwestern farm belt will be hard hit by both prolonged droughts and flooding mirroring the Farm Crisis of the 1980s.
  7. Although lawmakers disagree on how and if they should combat climate change, the authors of the report emphasized a three-pronged solution:
  • Impose a fee or tax on companies to encourage a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal.
  • Reduce greenhouse pollution by establishing government emission limits.
  • Invest public spending on clean-energy research.