The draft report offers the clearest look yet at US climate threats

The draft report offers the clearest look yet at US climate threats

The Trump administration tried but mostly failedto stop work on the next report, and its publication has been postponed to 2023.

The draft report comes as world leaders meet this week in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for the annual United Nations climate change summit. This year’s talks are focused on the damage global warming is doing to the world’s poorest countries and the question of what rich countries should do to help. But the upcoming US assessment will offer a stark reminder that even rich countries will face serious consequences if temperatures continue to rise.

The United States has warmed 68 percent faster than the Earth as a whole over the past 50 years, according to the draft report, with average temperatures in the lower 48 states rising 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.4 degrees Celsius) over that time period. This reflects a global pattern in which land areas are warming faster than oceans, and higher latitudes are warming faster than lower latitudes as humans warm the planet, primarily by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal for energy.

Americans can now feel the effects of climate change in their daily lives, the draft said. In coastal cities like Miami Beach, Florida, the frequency of disruptive high-tide flooding has quadrupled over the past 20 years as sea levels have risen. In Alaska, 14 major fishing disasters have been linked to climate change, including an increase in marine heat waves. In Colorado, the ski industry has lost revenue due to declining snowfall.

Across the country, deadly and devastating extreme weather events such as heat waves, heavy rainfall, droughts and wildfires have already become more frequent and severe.

In the 1980s, the nation suffered an extreme weather disaster that caused at least a billion dollars in economic damage about once every four months, on average, after adjusting for inflation. “Now,” the draft says, “there is an average of one every three weeks.” Some extreme events, like the heat wave in the Pacific Northwest last year that killed at least 229 people, would be virtually impossible without global warming.

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