The U.S. Global Change Research Program recently published the Fifth National Climate Assessment for the United States, providing an overview of the impacts of climate change on the country. And the implications of the report are clear: be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
Country-wide climate change is coming for every American citizen, there’s no escaping it, and you’re doomed. Climate change will devastate every square inch of the United States, with each region experiencing its own unique blend of climate disasters. Luckily, scientists from all four corners of the nation have joined forces to warn Americans about what’s in store for them this year in their region.
Dave Reidmiller, co-author of the Northeast chapter of the assessment, highlighted the Northeast’s old infrastructure and believes that wastewater treatment plants, electrical grids, dams, and roadways face increased risks due to climate change.
The Southeast is facing climate disasters like rising sea levels, hurricanes, and heat. The West is expected to suffer under increased threats of wildfires and drought, which will destroy crops and affect the quality of air.
The Midwest will experience flooding and drought in addition to heat, and coastal communities will experience an increase in sea levels and accompanying high tides.
Climate change, according to the study, is not only worsening but also getting more racist as the threats grow.
Per the assessment, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities disproportionately bear the burden of environmental risks due to historical factors such as Housing discrimination, Jim Crow segregation, slavery, and Intergenerational ownership of individuals as property.
Consequently, the assessment argues, these communities often reside in neighborhoods with fewer resources to address the increasing threat of climate disaster risks compared to majority-white communities.
Kathie Dello, a co-author of the study and director of the North Carolina State Climate Office, expressed concern about the lack of coordinated efforts in managing the impacts of climate change. According to Dello, America’s ever-increasing population is being placed in harm’s way without effective coordination, and cities are struggling to keep pace with the rapidly changing climate threat.
A White House press release outlined these concerns, explaining that underserved and overburdened communities “bear disproportionate risks and impacts from climate change,” amplifying existing social and economic inequities. Some of these communities face higher climate risks “due to ongoing systemic discrimination and exclusion.” The press release highlights that social inequities contribute to “persistent disparities in the availability of resources” necessary to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the upcoming climate change disasters.
The report points out that coastal communities face an ongoing threat from rising sea levels. From 1970 to 2020, the report states, sea levels increased by six inches relative to land elevations. Projections indicate a further rise of 16 to 23 inches by mid-century and two to seven feet by the end of the century. The saltwater encroachment has already impacted coastal estuaries and forests, diminishing their capacity to sequester carbon.
But Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and policy director for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, emphasized, “This is not about curling up in a corner in despair.” She highlights that tangible steps can be made to curb emissions and enhance “climate resilience.”
Luckily, the government has nearly unlimited money to spend on climate disasters. In conjunction with the assessment, the White House disclosed a $6 billion investment initiative to enhance climate resilience. The funds will be directed toward reinforcing the aging infrastructure of the electric grid, endorsing conservation endeavors, mitigating flood risks, and promoting environmental justice.
Of the $6 billion in funding, $3.9 billion will be used to modernize the electrical grid, $2 billion will fund community-based ecological programs, and several hundred million will be slated to enhance flood resistance and community water supplies.
But no amount of money can save humanity from the inevitability of climate crisis, or, as it was called in the old days, “seasonal weather.” So far, no amount of tax increases or failed economic policies have been able to turn back the powerful forces of liberal fearmongering.