US Climate Report Paints Grim Picture But Not Without Hope

Nov 15, 2023

A major report on climate change in the US has, for the first time, put a price tag on the effects of a warming planet on the US economy. It says climate change costs the country $150 billion a year. These effects hit areas in need harder than others, the report found.   

The National Climate Assessment is released every four years. It's a report compiled with the input of hundreds of experts. It paints a grimmer picture of the country’s climate outlook.

Among the report’s findings:  

• The US is warming faster than the world average. While every part of the country has been affected, the impacts are more severe in certain regions. For example, coastal states are suffering from more devastating storms than elsewhere.

• The US spends $1 billion for weather disasters every three weeks. That's up from the same amount every four months in the 1980s. That figure is adjusted for inflation.

• US emissions dropped 12% from 2005-2019. But, that's not fast enough to stop the climate from warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050. That's an internationally agreed upon target. The US is the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter. It would have to speed up emission-cutting by six times the current level to meet that target. 

• Climate change is making people in the US sicker. It's killing more people. And it's changing daily life in myriad ways. Fishing communities, midwestern farms, and western ski resorts are changing or disappearing.     

The report’s authors insist there's hope. Some of the effects of climate change are locked in. But the nation can cut emissions in major ways, the report found. Some measures aren't hard to do. They include changing natural gas and oil furnaces to electric versions.   

Photo from Unsplash courtesy of Matt Palmer.

Reflect: What do you think are some effective and easy ways we can help take care of our planet and make a positive impact on the environment?

Which of the following words would best replace “grimmer” in the second paragraph of the story? (Common Core RI.5.4; RI.6.4)
a. happier
b. dirtier
c. brighter
d. darker
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