The Trump administration tried to bury the Fourth National Climate Assessment by releasing it on Black Friday, hoping most Americans would be too busy bargain shopping to notice the blockbuster report. But that tactic backfired spectacularly as mainstream news outlets pounced on the story.
Based on the assessment by scientists at 13 federal government agencies, America can expect severe economic disruption across the country because of the effects of climate change, such as lower quality water for our farms, unstable ecosystems, more fragile infrastructure and more. The report’s findings tell us these scenarios must be treated as likely outcomes to be mitigated, not possibilities to be speculated upon.
In contrast to President Trump, who breezily dismissed the report, both current and incoming members of Congress have spoken out about how the National Climate Assessment presents a clear case for action:
- Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.): “Rising seas and extreme weather don’t care what you ‘believe,’ Mr. President. #ClimateChange is a scientific reality – and this report was produced by your own administration’s experts.”
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.): “We cannot afford more delay and inaction from the Trump administration. It’s time for the U.S. to show strong leadership and take action now.”
- Rep.-elect Harley Rouda (D-Calif.): “Today’s #climatereport is both devastating and unsurprising. In the #116Congress I will work with leaders from either party who are ready to accept science and act to protect our planet and our people.”
- Rep.-elect Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.): “A report released today details how climate change and the extreme environmental events it causes are threatening our health, economy, infrastructure, & security. Congress must acknowledge this threat, work to fight the impact, and address the causes.”
- Rep.-elect Sean Casten (D-Ill.): “Climate change matters. You cannot call yourself a leader if you are waiting to act until it polls well.”
In addition to the National Climate Assessment, several other major reports confirm that America’s current course of inaction will harm future generations on an unprecedented scale. The IPCC report last month outlined the dire global threats of failing to slow climate change. Another major international study found that current climate trends point to “unacceptably high” levels of risk for public health. And the recent United Nations’ 2018 Emissions Gap Report found that the United States isn’t doing nearly enough to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
America’s elected leaders at every level must take steps to prevent the disasters laid out in our federal government’s own National Climate Assessment, and we are thrilled that the next House of Representatives will have the pro-environmental leadership necessary to take on these challenges.
Kevin S. Curtis is the executive director of the NRDC Action Fund.