Federal climate change study says US at risk of 'substantial damages'

Don't expect the current administration to do much about it.

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AP Photo/Noah Berger
AP Photo/Noah Berger

Now that US federal agencies have determined that humans are driving climate change, they're turning their attention to the potential effects of that change... and it's not looking good. They've released the second half of the National Climate Assessment, and have determined that humans aren't doing enough to prevent "substantial damages" to the American economy, environment and health in the decades ahead. You've already seen the consequences in some cases, such as increasing numbers of wildfires and communities that have had to relocate due to rising sea levels.

There have also been record-setting weather extremes in recent years, and researchers determined that those can have ripple effects on everything from the basic availability of food and water to higher-level issues like trade and national security. Problems can be particularly acute for low-income populations and the elderly, according to the findings.

The question is whether or not this report will lead to action. It's meant to inform both public and private decisions, but the Trump administration is known for both suppressing climate change science and spinning it to justify loosening environmental standards. For now, the report may be most useful for companies and local governments that want to address climate change without waiting for federal leadership.

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