The Climate Crisis is Costing the US Major Money
Carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas is warming our planet and driving a climate crisis. Natural systems are being thrown out of balance – to often devastating effect.
What does that mean for us? Events like torrential rains, floods, heat waves, hurricanes, the “polar vortex,” and drought are becoming more frequent and/or intense.
Each of these weather disasters bring with them a price tag. And if you think action to end the climate crisis is going to be expensive, consider the price of not taking the urgent, large-scale action we need.
The Washington Post reports, “the frequency of billion-dollar disasters [in the United States] has now increased from once every four months in the 1980s to once every three weeks in the present.”
The reason? Climate change doing what it does best – making already harmful events worse. The climate crisis is creating more and more extreme weather events and driving sea level rise. It threatens the safety of drinking water in many places, and the security of our agricultural output in others.
In many instances, it is a threat to our physical safety as well.
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Every new year seems to arrive on the heels of another unfortunate climate record set. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) reports that in 2021, 20 different extreme weather and climate events cost more than $1 billion each, leading to $152.6 billion in total damages. Going back a little further, the last five years have seen 89 such events with total damages costing $788.4 billion.
Over 4,500 people in the US lost their lives to climate and weather disasters in that same five-year timeframe.
And in 2022 so far (as of mid-October), “there have been 15 weather/climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each to affect the United States,” according to NOAA.
There have been a total of 338 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where damages have exceeded $1 billion. The total cost of all that climate calamity? More than $2.295 trillion.
That’s trillion. With a “t”. To affect the US alone.
These kinds of numbers make our choice a stark one. Suddenly, a new offshore wind farm or community solar project seems much more affordable than it perhaps previously had, doesn’t it?
This news comes at a time when we’ve learned the planet, which has already warmed by about 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the Industrial Revolution, is on track to warm by 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, substantially more than the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming goal of the Paris Agreement – unless we take the urgent action we need to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Not in a few years. Not even tomorrow. Now. We must act now to end this crisis.
You don’t have to be a scientist to know what’s on the horizon if politicians and business leaders keep denying reality and refusing to act sufficiently. We’re seeing it already.
In the powerful storms that create billions in direct damages. In the lost agricultural fields that follow a flood or drought. In the spread of vector-borne diseases.
This crisis isn’t going to solve itself. It’s going to continue to get worse until we take the action we need to stop it.
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