A study earlier this week suggested poor air quality conditions could cut years off of global life expectancy, and as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, those conditions could only get worse. Not to mention, a warming climate could help the spread of diseases through insects and pests, decrease water availability, and lead to more heat-related deaths, particularly as 2017 was the hottest year on record. Without “substantial and sustained reductions,” ecosystems will continue to be depleted, especially heat-sensitive ones like coral reefs and sea-ice environments. Furthermore, extreme heat in the face of drought and wildfires will wreak havoc on agricultural productivity and threaten food security while some sectors of the US economy could cost upwards of $100 billion by the end of the century, potentially surpassing gross domestic product of many states.
“While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades,” reads the report, highlighting the necessity of federal, state, and local governments to “take aggressive action” to protect Americans by curbing emissions and helping communities adapt to “inevitable” climate impacts.
“While the report doesn’t offer policy recommendations, the findings certainly make a convincing case that the White House should stop rolling back climate policies and recognize that a much larger scale response is required to keep people safe,” said Ekwurzel.