LAST Friday, November 23, hundreds of government and external scientists involved in the U.S. Global Change Research Program, released a report that concluded that climate change could cost the United States billions of dollars annually within decades if greenhouse gases aren’t dramatically reduced, and could worsen environmental disasters like wildfires and flooding. Its findings aligned with those of the broader scientific community.
This federally mandated study warned that the U.S. economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars — or, in the worst-case scenario, more than 10 percent of its GDP — by the end of the century. Worse, climate change damages not only our ecosystem but our health — the health of ALL living things on the planet if we do not act NOW, as we are ALL in this TOGETHER.
As CNN reported, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was put together with the help of 1,000 people, including 300 leading scientists, roughly half from outside the government.
It’s the second of two volumes. The first report was released in November 2017, concluded that there is “no convincing alternative explanation” for the changing climate other than “human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases.”
The world used to look up to the United States for leadership in addressing this problem but things changed when Trump became president. Trump has called climate change a “hoax” many times in the past, espousing and pursuing a pro-fossil fuels agenda.
Asked by reporters outside the White House about the findings that unchecked global warming would wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, BBC News reported that Trump’s reply was: “I don’t believe it.”
The members of his administration and many members of the Republican Party echo Trump’s position, and denigrated the scientists and scholars who have been working on this U.S. government study as co-conspirators to push a liberal agenda that runs contrary to the interests of the fossil fuel industry.
THE TRUTH IS — we all need to be concerned about this because climate change is already affecting us now, and this includes more frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events.
Unless we face the FACTS and do something now, we will be betraying our children and grandchildren by leaving behind a planet that will be harmful to their health, their life and their future.
The report says that projections of future catastrophe could change if the governments and the people of the world work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and “to adapt to the changes that will occur.”
Just last October, the United Nations warned that we have only 12 years to limit the catastrophic effects of climate change. The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is an urgent need “to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.”
The Guardian reported that the authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say “urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.”
The report further explained that the half-degree difference could also prevent corals from being completely eradicated and ease pressure on the Arctic, according to the 1.5C study, which was launched after approval at a final plenary of all 195 countries in Incheon in South Korea. Donald Trump was not on board, promising to withdraw the U.S. – the world’s biggest source of historical emissions – from the accord.
Let me quote The Guardian report on this and you decide whom to believe: Trump or the scientists on climate change.
“The world is currently 1C warmer than preindustrial levels. Following devastating hurricanes in the U.S., record droughts in Cape Town and forest fires in the Arctic, the IPCC makes clear that climate change is already happening, upgraded its risk warning from previous reports, and warned that every fraction of additional warming would worsen the impact.
Scientists who reviewed the 6,000 works referenced in the report, said the change caused by just half a degree came as a revelation. “We can see there is a difference and it’s substantial,” Roberts said.
At 1.5C the proportion of the global population exposed to water stress could be 50% lower than at 2C, it notes. Food scarcity would be less of a problem and hundreds of millions fewer people, particularly in poor countries, would be at risk of climate-related poverty.
At 2C extremely hot days, such as those experienced in the northern hemisphere this summer, would become more severe and common, increasing heat-related deaths and causing more forest fires.
But the greatest difference would be to nature. Insects, which are vital for pollination of crops, and plants are almost twice as likely to lose half their habitat at 2C compared with 1.5C. Corals would be 99% lost at the higher of the two temperatures, but more than 10% have a chance of surviving if the lower target is reached.
Sea-level rise would affect 10 million more people by 2100 if the half-degree extra warming brought a forecast 10cm additional pressure on coastlines. The number affected would increase substantially in the following centuries due to locked-in ice melt.
Oceans are already suffering from elevated acidity and lower levels of oxygen as a result of climate change. One model shows marine fisheries would lose 3m tonnes at 2C, twice the decline at 1.5C.
Sea ice-free summers in the Arctic, which is warming two to three times faster than the world average, would come once every 100 years at 1.5C, but every 10 years with half a degree more of global warming.
Time and carbon budgets are running out. By mid-century, a shift to the lower goal would require a supercharged roll-back of emissions sources that have built up over the past 250 years.
The IPCC maps out four pathways to achieve 1.5C, with different combinations of land use and technological change. Reforestation is essential to all of them as are shifts to electric transport systems and greater adoption of carbon capture technology.
Carbon pollution would have to be cut by 45% by 2030 – compared with a 20% cut under the 2C pathway – and come down to zero by 2050, compared with 2075 for 2C. This would require carbon prices that are three to four times higher than for a 2C target. But the costs of doing nothing would be far higher.”
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos