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Report outlines problems U.S. will likely face from climate change

By Sam Howard
Report outlines problems U.S. will likely face from climate change
The U.S. needs to take immediate action on mitigation and adaptation efforts to avoid some severe results of climate change, according to a congressionally mandated report release Friday. File Photo EPA-EFE/Ryan Tong

Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Climate change will have a far-reaching affect on the U.S. if more is not done to combat it, according to the Fourth National Climate Assessment by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

The report, released Friday and mandated by a 1990 law, outlined a number of challenges the U.S. could face if global climate change is left unmitigated. It also said climate change is already affecting the country.

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"The impacts of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country. ... Future climate change is expected to further disrupt many areas of life, exacerbating existing challenges to prosperity posed by aging and deteriorating infrastructure, stressed ecosystems, and economic inequality," the report said in its summary findings.

Some effects may be felt soon, the report said, adding that unmitigated climate change could lead to "substantial net damage to the U.S. economy throughout this century."

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"Rising temperatures are projected to reduce the efficiency of power generation while increasing energy demands, resulting in higher electricity costs," the report said. "The impacts of climate change beyond our borders are expected to increasingly affect our trade and economy, including import and export prices and U.S. businesses with overseas operations and supply chains."

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The economy was one of a number of targets the report said climate change could affect or harm. It also explained ways climate change could hurt Americans' health, the country's indigenous populations, water supplies and the agriculture sector.

It has become more common for the U.S. government to take climate change into account when making decisions, the report said, but it added that more action is needed in the immediate future to make sure the scenarios it outlined are not fully realized.

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Those needed actions would entail both climate change mitigation efforts and adaption plans to adjust society to a changing climate, the report said.

"Future risks from climate change depend primarily on decisions made today," it said.

The New York Times reported scientists who worked on the report said the Trump administration, which has been at odds with climate activists over its policy toward climate change, did not try to alter its conclusions.

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Trump has at times expressed skepticism that climate change is primarily caused by humans -- a sentiment the report expressed in its first sentence.

"Earth's climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities," it said.

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The report was the second volume of a report first released last November.

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