Climate change to cost the US half a trillion dollars a year

The consequences of climate change may cost the United States as much as 500 billion dollars a year. The consequences to the national economy will be disastrous and most detrimental to the least affluent – these are the key conclusions of a report drawn upon a request of the US federal government[1].

The fourth issue of the National Climate Assessment straightforwardly concludes that “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.” The paper was prepared by about 300 scientists who agree that “the assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid”.

What are the conclusions of the report? In the USA climate change will strike low-income groups the most. Already now do poorer people have higher disease ratios and need more time to recover from natural disasters.

In the report, scientists, including those from NASA or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), warn that if America chooses to ignore climate change and fails to undertake relevant actions now, by the end of this century the consequences of global warming will result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and losses worth billions of dollars. The report even provides a specific amount – 500 billion dollars a year.

The authors of the report clearly stressed that the catastrophic changes had been caused by the emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. After China, the US is the world’s largest emitter of CO2. According to the National Climate Assessment estimates, if we want to avoid an average temperature increase by 2 degrees Celsius, we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as early as 2040. If the emission levels continue to grow, by 2100 the average temperature might have risen by even 5 degrees.

The authors of the assessment present a list consequences of climate change: heart and lung diseases, heat illnesses and bacterial infections, which are likely to spread and grow. What’s more, the poor will suffer from those illnesses the most[2].

In urban areas, which generate 80 per cent of North America’s greenhouse gases, the poor “live in neighborhoods with the greatest exposure to climate and extreme weather events”, the report says. On the other hand, in rural regions, people with low incomes make a living mainly out of agriculture, which is the most sensitive to the changing environmental conditions.

The report did not receive a warm welcome from the US federal administration. President Donald Trump himself, as well as many people around him and in his administration, many times underestimated or even denied human impact on climate change, to such an extent that Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris agreement. On the other hand, the US federal administration has a limited control over energy or climate policies of individual states. Authorities of multiple states, with California being the leader of the group, undertake initiatives that are directly against Washington’s whims.


[1] https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/26/climate-change-will-hurt-poor-people-the-most-federal-report.html