The US government has released its latest National Climate Assessment, a congressionally mandated report that summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, based on the best available science. The report, which is the fifth edition of the assessment, was released on November 14, 2023, and it is divided into four volumes: Volume I covers the physical science basis of climate change, Volume II covers the impacts, risks, and adaptation in the United States, Volume III covers the mitigation strategies and actions, and Volume IV covers the indicators of climate change in the United States.
The report warns that climate change is already affecting every region and sector of the US economy, and that the impacts will worsen without significant and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts. Some of the key findings of the report are:
– The US has experienced a remarkable warmth so far in 2023, with the average temperature for the first four months of the year being 3.6°F above the 20th century average, making it the warmest such period on record.
– The US has also witnessed more frequent and intense extreme weather events, such as heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfires, and storms, which have caused billions of dollars in damages and disrupted the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans.
– Climate change is harming the health and well-being of Americans in various ways, such as increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses, respiratory diseases, vector-borne infections, mental stress, and food insecurity.
– Climate change is disproportionately impacting vulnerable communities, such as low-income, minority, and indigenous groups, who have less capacity to cope with and adapt to the changing conditions.
– Climate change is affecting the natural resources and ecosystems that support the US economy and society, such as water, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and biodiversity.
– Climate change is also posing challenges and opportunities for the US national security and foreign policy, such as increasing the potential for conflicts and humanitarian crises, altering the geopolitical landscape, and creating new alliances and partnerships.
The report also highlights the opportunities for economic growth and innovation in the transition to a clean energy economy, such as creating new jobs, improving public health, and enhancing national security while reducing the risks of climate change. Some of the key messages of the report are:
– The US has the technological and institutional capabilities to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, which is consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the latest scientific evidence.
– The US has also the potential to lead the global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, by leveraging its scientific, economic, and diplomatic strengths, and by collaborating with other countries and stakeholders.
– The US can benefit from the co-benefits of climate action, such as improving the air quality, public health, energy security, and social equity, while also avoiding the costs and damages of inaction.
– The US can foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that can drive the development and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions, and create new markets and opportunities for the US businesses and workers.
– The US can also enhance its resilience and adaptive capacity to cope with the impacts of climate change, by investing in infrastructure, disaster preparedness, social capital, and ecosystem services, and by empowering the local and regional actors and communities.
The report is based on the contributions of more than 300 experts from various federal agencies, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and private sectors, and it underwent extensive peer review and public comment processes. The report is intended to inform and guide the decision-makers and stakeholders at all levels, and to provide the best available science and information on climate change and its implications for the United States.
The report has received praise and support from many scientists, policymakers, and advocates, who have called it a comprehensive and authoritative assessment of the state of the climate and its impacts on the US. Some of the quotes from the report’s authors and contributors are:
– “This report makes it clear that climate change is not some problem in the distant future. It’s happening right now in every part of the country.” – Brenda Ekwurzel, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and one of the authors of the report.
– “The impacts and costs of climate change are already being felt in the United States, and changes in the likelihood or severity of some recent extreme weather events can now be attributed with increasingly higher confidence to human-caused warming.” – David Easterling, director of the Technical Support Unit at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.
– “We have a window of opportunity to act now to put our nation on the path to a more sustainable and prosperous future.” – Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy and one of the lead authors of the report.
– “The longer we wait to reduce emissions, the more costly and challenging it will be to mitigate and adapt to climate change.” – Robert Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University and one of the lead authors of the report.
– “The good news is that there are cost-effective solutions available now that can create jobs, improve public health, and enhance national security while reducing the risks of climate change.” – Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University and one of the contributors to the report.
– US climate assessment lays out growing threats, opportunities as temperatures rise, by Timothy Gardner, published on MSN on November 14, 2023
– Massive climate change report due 2023 on effects, science – USA TODAY, published on USA TODAY on November 22, 2023
– U.S. dominated by remarkable warmth so far in 2023 | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, published on NOAA on May 8, 2023
– The losses and damages of climate change – Center for American Progress, published on Center for American Progress on November 15, 2023