Report Finds Climate Change Dramatically Impacting US Economy and People Already

heatwaveThe draft version of the National Climate Assessment was released on Friday, and the key finding is that “climate change is already affecting the American people.”

“Climate change presents a major challenge for society,” the committee’s leadership said in a letter on Friday. “This report and the sustained assessment process that is being developed represent steps forward in advancing our understanding of that challenge and its far-reaching implications for our nation and the world.”

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the report says. “Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer.”

“Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and arctic sea ice are melting,” they write. “These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity.”

The report argues, “The impacts are often most significant for communities that already face economic or health-related challenges, and for species and habitats that are already facing other pressures. While some changes will bring potential benefits, such as longer growing seasons, many will be disruptive to society because our institutions and infrastructure have been designed for the relatively stable climate of the past, not the changing one of the present and future.”

The National Climate Assessment is required under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, and is presented to the President and Congress every four years.

“Human-induced climate change means much more than just hotter weather,” they warn, referencing increases in ocean and freshwater temperatures, frost-free days, heavy downpours, rising sea level, and reductions in snow-cover extent, glaciers, permafrost and sea ice.  Winter storms along both coasts have increased in frequency and intensity. “These changes and other climatic changes have affected and will continue to affect human health, water supply, agriculture, transportation, energy, and many other aspects of society.”

“This draft report sends a warning to all of us: We must act in a comprehensive fashion to reduce carbon pollution or expose our people and communities to continuing devastation from extreme weather events and their aftermath,” Senator Barbara Boxer said in a statement.

“The findings in the report are a three-alarm fire,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman.  “Climate change is already causing widespread disruption across the nation. We are in deep trouble if we don’t act forcefully this year.”

President Obama has been criticized by some for not paying nearly enough attention to the issue of climate change.

The LA Times, for example, notes, “With the White House working on so many economic, foreign and domestic policy fronts, it remains unclear if the president will speak up more on climate, let alone spearhead new initiatives.”

They add, “The Obama administration has implemented several regulations to curtail emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that scientists say have stoked global warming. But the president seldom speaks of climate change.”

The White House has declined to comment on the report, citing their lack of chance to review it.

However, Carol Browner, President Obama’s former climate czar and now a senior fellow with the liberal Center for American Progress, told the Hill that, while the U.S. is making progress reducing emissions, “more action is needed immediately.”

“We can start with strict carbon pollution standards for power plants and we must significantly expand investments in community resiliency to protect people and the economy from the gathering storms – and floods, droughts, wildfires, and heat waves,” said Ms. Browner told the Hill.

Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, urged that the White House take action: “In his second term, President Obama has a chance to ensure his legacy as a leader on climate change.  Now is the time for the administration to move forward with new standards on power plants and other actions to put America on course to a low-carbon future.”

On the other hand, Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said in a statement Friday that he plans to vet climate science in the new Congress.

“I believe climate change is due to a combination of factors, including natural cycles, sun spots, and human activity. But scientists still don’t know for certain how much each of these factors contributes to the overall climate change that the Earth is experiencing,” he said.

“It is the role of the Science Committee to create a forum for discussion so Congress and the American people can hear from experts and draw reasoned conclusions,” he added.

Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, said the report confirms what many Americans already know.

“Hurricane Sandy and the historic droughts, floods and heat waves happening across the country aren’t a fluke, but the result of a climate warming much faster than previously thought,” he said. “If we put off action on climate change, the costs of addressing its impacts will only rise and this extreme weather will be just the beginning. This report should serve as a wake-up call that it’s time to act.”

“This could help restart a national conversation about climate change,” said Todd Sanford with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It gives us a road map for climate change. And the road is much bumpier if we continue along a higher emissions pathway.”

A 60-person Federal Advisory Committee (the “National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee” or NCADAC) has overseen the development of this draft climate report.

The membership of the NCADAC includes not just researchers, but leaders from various industries.

“Climate change will influence human health in many ways; some existing health threats will intensify, and new health threats will emerge,” the report argues. Some of the health impacts stem from increasingly frequent and intense extreme heat, which causes heat-related illnesses and deaths.  They also find that, over time, this will worsen drought and wildfire risks, intensify air pollution and make increasingly frequent extreme precipitation and associated flooding that can lead to injuries and increases in marine and freshwater-borne disease, as rising sea levels will intensify coastal flooding and storm surge.

They believe, “Certain groups of people are more vulnerable to the range of climate change-related health impacts, including the elderly, children, the poor, and the sick. Others are vulnerable because of where they live, including those in floodplains, coastal zones, and some urban areas.”

In fact, they argue that US population growth has been greatest in those areas most at risk for being impacted by climate change.

The report concludes, in part, that planning for adaptation and mitigation is increasing, but warns that “progress with implementation is limited.”

They write, “The level of current efforts is insufficient to avoid increasingly serious impacts of climate change that have large social, environmental, and economic consequences. Well-planned and implemented actions to limit emissions and increase resilience to impacts that are unavoidable can improve public health, economic development opportunities, natural system protection, and overall quality of life.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

37 thoughts on “Report Finds Climate Change Dramatically Impacting US Economy and People Already”

  1. rusty49

    This report is already being shown to be very misleading:


    “Trusting the NCDC averaging method to reach “hottest ever” conclusions is a mistake, because higher minimums at night will yield a higher daily average, even if daytime highs do not rise.

    This is what happened in July 2012. Then, NCDC records indicated that the United States was less cool at night than in July 1936, therefore, the average they computed for July 2012 was higher than in 1936. Yet, Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama at Huntsville demonstrated that NCDC records show daytime high temperatures in July 1936 far surpassed those of 2012. July 2012 was not the warmest month in the American 118-year instrumental record.

    This week, NCDC’s credibility was further damaged when meteorologist Anthony Watts of Chico, Calif., announced that he had discovered huge differences between their “State of the Climate” (SOTC) reports released each month and the actual database of NCDC temperatures. For example, the July 2012 SOTC report, issued in early August, announced that a new record had been set with the average July temperature for the contiguous United States at 77.6 degrees, one-fifth of a degree higher than in July 1936. However, the NCDC now says the July 2012 average was actually about 76.9 degrees, nearly 0.7 degrees less. This is almost 0.5 degrees cooler than the 77.4 degrees claimed as the previous monthly record in 1936. What is going on?”

  2. Siegel

    Been “shown” to be very misleading? By what, the Washington Times and Roy Spencer whose work has long since been discredited? Look at the list of scientists, I think they know more about the state of the research than a report from the Washington Times.

  3. rusty49


    “Strangely, NCDC changes temperature data even from the distant past without notification. For example, NCDC now asserts that the average temperature in July 1936 was 76.4 degrees, a full degree cooler than the 77.4 degrees that they claimed for the month in the July 2012 SOTC report. This allows them to continue to say that July 2012 set a record.

    Mr. Watts found that in the 23 monthly SOTC reports between October 2010 and November 2012 (three SOTC reports did not list average temperatures), 22 of them do not match the NCDC database, presumably due to later updating when all the data are received and analyzed. In all cases except one, the country cooled when all the data were incorporated.

    Mr. Watts concludes: “It is mind-boggling that this national average temperature and ranking is presented to the public and to the press as factual information and claims each month in the SOTC, when in fact the numbers change later.”

    We don’t really know how much, if any, warming has occurred in the United States over the past century. Since the American record is considered to be the most accurate part of the Global Historical Climatology Network, we really don’t even know that global warming has occurred at all in the past century.”

  4. rusty49

    Cooking the books?


  5. medwoman

    [quote]daytime high temperatures in July 1936 far surpassed those of 2012. July 2012 was not the warmest month in the American 118-year instrumental record.[/quote]

    Disclaimer. I am speaking to this issue with no special knowledge or expertise since global warming is not an issue that I have researched. However, I would make the observation that a factual misstatement about July 2012 being the warmest month, when in fact, it only takes second place to July 1936, does not undermine the significance of the message. Especially if you consider that the 1936 was the last year of the “dustbowl” years which one could certainly argue had profound effects on Americans, especially the most vulnerable.

  6. Siegel

    I notice you didn’t address my response to the first of your posts. My observation is that you have no true understanding of this issue. My evidence for that is that you’ve pretty copied and pasted points, rarely offering your own argument or analysis. The Washington Times article is a classic example. In academia, especially a report of this sort, one of the exercises is called a literature review, where the researcher reads and reviews all existing literature. So now you have to ask yourself, who knows the totality of the literature better – 50 of the top global scientists researchers, btw, some of whom work for industry like Monsanto, or one Washington Times reporter? Do you think that someone how he found the one piece of research that they missed that miraculously refutes their entire body of research? When you pull these stories up, do you have enough scientific understanding to grasp the concepts and therefore their validity or do you bother to google the names to see if what you have printed is accepted science or has been debunked? Because to be honest, all I see here is you googling a few studies that happen to agree with you – you are welcome to do it, but don’t pretend like you have anything to offer this subject.

  7. rusty49

    Are we being conned?


  8. medwoman


    With regard to the Homewood piece that you site. Looking at the trend graph for temperatures in the contiguous United States supports rather than refutes the concept of overall warming. Note that since 1900 the trend line has been consistently if gradually trending upwards. There is not a single downward deflection of this trend line.

  9. Don Shor

    Browner: “[i]…we must significantly expand investments in community resiliency to protect people and the economy from the gathering storms – and floods, droughts, wildfires, and heat waves…[/i]”

    The one useful quote from the article above.

  10. medwoman

    But what you have not posted are any graphs that refute that. The second graph in the article does not debunk the first, but provides different, not comparable data.

  11. biddlin

    The oxidised oracle may believe Reverend Moon and Fox news’ favourite sources, but there is little debate about climate change from real scientists. As is frequently the case, no amount of research and its resulting data will satisfy the closed mind .

  12. Don Shor

    Using a single year as a data point is interesting anecdotally. But 1936 was horrific by any measure:

  13. medwoman

    The consequences of the drought and heat wave of 1936 were indeed horrific with as many as 5000 deaths attributable to heat across the nation that year. Granted this was before the widespread availability of air conditioning so I would not anticipate a death toll as high if we were to experience a similar heat spike today.
    However, I do think it is important to remember that the availability of temperature controlled shelter while more prevalent today, is by no means universal and would certainly hit the most vulnerable amongst the population the hardest.

  14. jrberg

    The mental image of biddlin’s “oxidized oracle” that comes to my mind is wonderful. But seriously, I would like to know what rusty’s professional credentials are, so that I would have some idea, just as siegel would, about how much credence to give his thinking. At this point, he is apparently just trolling, but if he has particular expertise in science that he hasn’t mentioned, it would be very helpful to know that.

  15. craised

    If we took a poll of Professors of Economics prior to 2008 they would nearly all have advocated ‘light touch’ regulation of banks and commercial markets.

    Not much attention would have been paid to the possible distortion of the markets by the financial incentive of the key players.

    In climate science we have a similar situation. But it might take 200 years and a trillion dollars to figure it out…

  16. jrberg

    If we took a poll of Professors of Economics prior to 2008 they would nearly all have advocated ‘light touch’ regulation of banks and commercial markets.[/i]

    And you know this how? Evidence? Citations? Many economics professors are friends of yours?

    [i]Not much attention would have been paid to the possible distortion of the markets by the financial incentive of the key players.[/i]

    Again, how do you know this? Evidence?

    [i]In climate science we have a similar situation. But it might take 200 years and a trillion dollars to figure it out… [/i]

    And what exactly do you mean by this? Scientists are just the same as greedy banksters? Again, please produce your evidence for such allegations. I’d be very interested to see evidence for every point you’ve tried to make.

  17. eagle eye

    We can see climate change just by looking at the striking change in snow volume on Mt. Shasta and Mt. Hood; also by observing changing patterns in our gardens. Melting of the glaciers, top and bottom, is most obvious and problematic.

    (Anthony Watts is/was a weather announcer for local TV in Chico – hardly
    an expert!)

  18. craised

    [quote]And what exactly do you mean by this? Scientists are just the same as greedy banksters? Again, please produce your evidence for such allegations. I’d be very interested to see evidence for every point you’ve tried to make. [/quote]

    Take a stroll over to the UCD campus and look around and observe and you just MIGHT have an epiphany and discover the evidence that your are thirsting for …

    Everyone in government and government-sponsored research and contracts are scrambling to justify and enlarge their budget.

    That is how bureaucratic and institutional budgeting works. Use it or lose it, grow or die.

    This situation is custom-made for exaggerating problems and fabricating catastrophes. If it isn’t a crisis, it doesn’t get funded.

    So imagine yourself as a humble researcher looking for government funding of your research.

    If the government funding fad du jour happens to be the mating habits of Madagascar slime moulds — and what a global disaster it would be if the species were lost — you’d best find a way to tie your research to Madagascar slime moulds and emphasize the catastrophic nature of the threat you will be studying.

    Follow the money. The money in this case does not come from oil and coal companies, but from entrenched carbon hysteria within federal funding agencies.

  19. jrberg

    Craised – I know many people on campus. None of them are funded from “carbon hysteria.” Can you give specific examples of what you seem to be hysteric about yourself? If not, I really don’t want to read any more anecdotes from your fevered imagination. It doesn’t contribute to an intelligent discussion.

    And it would be useful if you told us your credentials for being so knowledgeable on this subject, as well.

  20. rusty49

    Just take a look at some the Atmospheric Science classes offered at UCD. Here’s a snap shot of some of the classes I found with a quick search.
    Does it have the look of indoctrination to any of you?

    Global Climate Change (3)

    Lecture—2 hours; discussion—1 hour. Scientific concepts needed to understand climate and climate change. Principles of regional variations in climate. Understanding observed seasonal, decadal and millennial changes. Analysis of the Antarctic ozone hole, El Nino and human-induced global warming.

    6. Fundamentals of Atmospheric Pollution (3)

    Lecture—3 hours. Effects of human emissions on the atmosphere: smog, ozone pollution, and ozone depletion; indoor air pollution; global warming; acid rain. Impacts of these problems on the earth, ecosystems, and humans. Strategies to reduce
    atmospheric pollution.

    Issues in Atmospheric Science (2)
    Lecture—1 hour; discussion—1 hour. Prerequisite: high school physics. Introduction to selected topics in atmospheric science, such as: meteorological aspects of air pollution, use of computer models in weather forecasting, theories of global climate change, impact of satellites on meteorology, and modern meteorological instrumentation.

  21. rusty49

    “If not, I really don’t want to read any more anecdotes from your fevered imagination. It doesn’t contribute to an intelligent discussion.

    Then don’t read them, nobody is forcing you to. Who made you the message board monitor anyway?

    “And it would be useful if you told us your credentials for being so knowledgeable on this subject, as well.”

    Why don’t you show us your credentials to refute what anyone is saying? I have yet to see you contribute to any “intelligent discussion”.

  22. jrberg

    Don – I cheated. From what I can tell from searching NSF grants, there’s maybe 100 million dollars maximum per year going for climate change *education* and some research. The total may not be anywhere near that, since some of the grants I found were multiyear. So, what’s your number?

  23. jrberg

    Rusty at 8:03 – I normally don’t want to get involved in credential wars, but you asked, so I will answer. I have a PhD in Chemistry, and have specialized in analytical chemistry for most of my working career. I know exactly what is happening when reading about CO2 and methane increases in the atmosphere, and I understand the physical chemistry as well. I do not intend to be a “message board monitor” (that’s Don’s job), but I do not suffer ignorance gladly. The definition of ignorance here is that certain commentors ignore facts, or willfully deny them. As a scientist, I need to speak out when I see such ignorance.

    And I now ask again: what are your credentials to speak to this issue, and where is your evidence to support your points?

  24. rusty49

    “Global Warming Alarmism: When Science is Fiction”


  25. Don Shor

    Annual budget for the US Global Change Research Program, which is NSF’s consolidation of federal research, is about $330 million according to what I could find. So 330m out of 7b is a little less than 5% of NSF’s total budget going to the broad category of climate change research. Given how many disciplines are within the umbrella of climate change, I actually thought it would be a higher percentage. Somehow I don’t think 5% supports craised’s premise.

  26. jrberg

    Rusty would rather be a mad link generator than actually discuss the issue, apparently.

    Don – I’m surprised that the number is that high. Incidentally, our UCD chemistry department has a number of people working on energy research. None of those projects involve oil or gas utilization, so I suspect our “conservative” colleagues would consider that a waste of research money.

  27. Davis Progressive

    jrberg: i don’t think rusty knows much about this issue. all i have seen is him post a bunch of links to questionable pieces that he likely lacks any expertise at knowing that they are questionable. the question I think he has to ask himself is why he thinks the people posting these obscure articles know this stuff better than the climate scientists who do this for a living.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for