White House Study Warns Climate Change Will Cost US $500 Billion a Year. Trump’s Response: “I Don’t Believe It”

November 27th, 2018 - by admin

Joe Romm / ThinkProgress & The Huffington Post & Grist & USGS, Department of the Interior – 2018-11-27 01:03:51

White House admits Trump climate policies will cost Americans $500 billion a year

White House Admits Trump Climate Policies
Will Cost Americans $500 Billion a Year

Joe Romm / ThinkProgress

Trump team approves — then tries to bury —
a report warning that inaction on climate change
will devastate the country

(November 25, 2018) — The 1,000-page climate report released by the White House Friday quantifies the staggering cost of President Trump’s climate science denial.

The congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment (NCA) by hundreds of the country’s top scientists warns that a do-nothing climate policy will end up costing Americans more than a half-trillion dollars per year in increased sickness and death, coastal property damages, loss of worker productivity, and other damages.

Building on a 600-page analysis of climate science from 2017, the NCA details just how dangerous Trump administration’s policy of climate inaction is to Americans.

The White House oversaw the report’s review and clearance process — and tried to bury the findings by releasing it at 2 p.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

But the reality of climate change cannot be buried. Indeed the report concludes that “the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic well-being are rising.”

The NCA projects a devastated America on our current path of unrestricted carbon pollution — widespread Dust-Bowlification and 7°F to 8°F warming over the entire inland portion of the country, even as coastal America is slammed by sea levels rising a foot per decade, resulting in ever-worsening storm surges.

The report concludes that if governments meet their Paris targets, and then go beyond them, overall damage can be limited (the RCP4.5 scenario, in which temperatures rise some 4°F by century’s end). But the NCA makes clear that with policies that undercut the Paris targets — such as Trump’s pledge to withdraw from Paris and boost domestic carbon pollution from fossil fuels — catastrophic impacts would be inevitable (the RCP8.5 scenario, where temperatures rise by 7°F or more).

One final point: The report warns ominously, “It is very likely that some physical and ecological impacts will be irreversible for thousands of years, while others will be permanent.”

The choices we make today won’t just determine the degree of harm we do to our children and grandchildren, but to the next 50 generations and beyond. The immorality of Trump’s climate policies simply cannot be quantified.

Trump On Climate Change Report: ‘I Don’t Believe It’
Antonia Blumberg / The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON (November 26, 2018) — President Donald Trump on Monday rejected the findings of a sobering report about the economic costs of climate change that was released by his own administration.

“I don’t believe it,” he told reporters outside the White House before boarding Air Force One for a flight to Mississippi.

The president also attempted to place the blame for global warming on China, Japan and “all these other countries.”

“Right now, we’re the cleanest we’ve ever been,” he claimed.

President Trump passively rejects the findings of the major new US government multi-agency report that says climate change will wallop the US economy in years to come.

The White House released the 1,700-page report the day after Thanksgiving, which many critics have said was an apparent attempt to bury the alarming findings. The report, which was produced by scientists from 13 federal agencies, concluded the United States would warm at least 3 more degrees by 2100 unless the use of fossil fuels was dramatically curtailed.

It also connected climate change to other environmental issues, like record-breaking wildfires and storms, and warned of negative effects on the economy and American livelihoods.

A number of Republican senators downplayed the report and countered that federal efforts to reduce climate change could “devastate” the economy.

“I think if we’re going to move away from fossil fuels, it’s got to be done through innovation. And innovation can be choked out through excessive government regulation. We can’t let that happen,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The US has warmed roughly 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century, and 2017 was the country’s second-hottest year in history. Last year, the US spent a record $306 billion on climate-related disasters.

Trump — who has rolled back numerous Obama-era climate protections and has moved to expand oil drilling in US waters — announced last year that the US would withdraw from the 2015 Paris accord to combat climate change.

Trump Doesn’t ‘Believe’ His Own Administration’s Climate Report
Zoya Teirstein / Grist

(November 26, 2018) — President Trump has read “some” of the Fourth National Climate Assessment — a comprehensive report released by his own administration that looks at the effects of climate change on the US — and he says he doesn’t “believe it.” As in he can’t believe how bad the impacts are going to be? No, he simply doesn’t believe it.

Putting our differences aside for a second, this is actually kind of a baller move. Not only did Trump move up the date of the report’s release from December to the day after Thanksgiving (climate change vs. Black Friday mall sale stupor, anyone?) he made zero apologies about choosing to live in his own version of reality. Life’s a beach when you choose not to believe in inconvenient things! Check it out: You tell me I have to go into work the Monday after Thanksgiving? I don’t believe it. They did surgery on a grape? I don’t believe it.

The Commander in Chief didn’t give us many more details (like, you know, why), but the gist of the situation is that he thinks the climate assessment is a bunch of baloney. (Let the record again show that the report was composed by his own administration.)

And it wasn’t even the only climate report his administration released on November 23. Another report, this one from the US Geological Survey, found that nearly a quarter of the country’s carbon emissions come from fossil fuels produced on federal lands. [See abstract of USGS report below — EAW.]

Here’s what Trump did say:

Did he . . . did he literally shrug? Regardless of how blase Trump was about a report that basically portends widespread chaos, destruction, and economic distress for the country, his reaction is pretty damn believable. The man has spent a good portion of his tenure as president dismantling what’s left of United States climate policy:

* He wants to replace Obama’s landmark Clean Power Plan with a “Dirty Power Plan” that seeks to prop up the dying coal industry.

* His administration announced plans in August to freeze fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks for the next eight years, despite findings that those regulations would have reduced emissions and saved lives.

* He rolled back an Obama-era rule that curtailed methane leaks on public lands, calling it “unnecessarily burdensome on the private sector.” Methane, by the way, is in the short term many times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Those are just three examples of the Trump administration’s climate policies! There are many more. And as much as I would hope that this climate report or this one or this one might change his mind, at this point, it looks unlikely.

If President Trump believed some of his other rhetoric, then he might see that making America great requires protecting the regions now facing imminent and catastrophic climate change. But alas, the America Trump wants isn’t “America the Beautiful,” it’s America with the most beautiful, “clean” coal. Those spacious skies and amber waves of grain might not look so pretty after 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

Federal Lands Greenhouse Gas Emissions and
Sequestration in the United States: Estimates for 2005–2014

Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5131 / USGS, Department of the Interior

(November 23, 2018) — In January 2016, the Secretary of the US Department of the Interior tasked the US Geological Survey (USGS) with producing a publicly available and annually updated database of estimated greenhouse gas emissions associated with the extraction and use (predominantly some form of combustion) of fossil fuels from Federal lands.

In response, the USGS has produced estimates of the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the extraction and end-use combustion of fossil fuels produced on Federal lands in the United States, as well as estimates of ecosystem carbon emissions and sequestration on those lands. American Indian and Tribal lands were not included in this analysis.

The emissions estimates span a 10-year period (2005–14) and are reported for 28 States and two offshore areas. Nationwide emissions from fossil fuels produced on Federal lands in 2014 were 1,279.0 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMT CO2 Eq.) for carbon dioxide (CO2), 47.6 MMT CO2 Eq. for methane (CH4), and 5.5 MMT CO2 Eq. for nitrous oxide (N2O). Compared to 2005, the 2014 totals represent decreases in emissions for all three greenhouse gases (decreases of 6.1 percent for CO2, 10.5 percent for CH4, and 20.3 percent for N2O).

Emissions from fossil fuels produced on Federal lands represent, on average, 23.7 percent of national emissions for CO2, 7.3 percent for CH4, and 1.5 percent for N2O over the 10 years included in this estimate.

In 2005, Federal lands of the conterminous United States stored 82,289 MMT CO2 Eq. in terrestrial ecosystems. By 2014, carbon storage, or sequestration, was estimated at 83,600 MMT CO2 Eq., representing an increase of 1.6 percent, or 1,311 MMT CO2 Eq.

Soils stored most of the ecosystem carbon (63 percent), followed by live vegetation (26 percent) and dead organic matter (11 percent).

The rate of net carbon uptake in ecosystems ranged from a sink (sequestration) of 475 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year (MMT CO2 Eq./yr) to a source (emission) of 51 MMT CO2 Eq./yr because of annual variability in climate and weather, rates of land-use and land-cover change, and wildfire frequency, among other factors.

At the national level, the USGS estimates that terrestrial ecosystems (forests, grasslands, and shrublands) on Federal lands sequestered an average of 195 MMT CO2 Eq./yr between 2005 and 2014, offsetting approximately 15 percent of the CO2 emissions resulting from the extraction of fossil fuels on Federal lands and their end-use combustion.

The USGS estimates presented in this report represent a first-of-its-kind accounting for the emissions resulting from fossil fuel extraction on Federal lands and the end-use combustion of those fuels, as well as for the sequestration of carbon in terrestrial ecosystems on Federal lands.

The net CO2 emissions estimate, which is the difference between the emitted and sequestered CO2, provides an informative combined result describing the emissions (fossil fuel extraction and end-use combustion) associated with a State’s Federal lands and sequestration on those same lands. The estimates included in this report can provide context for future energy decisions, as well as a basis to track change in the future.

Suggested Citation
Merrill, M.D., Sleeter, B.M., Freeman, P.A., Liu, J., Warwick, P.D., and Reed, B.C., 2018, Federal lands greenhouse emissions and sequestration in the United States — Estimates for 2005-14: US Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2018–5131, 31 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20185131.

For additional information, contact:
Eastern Energy Resources Science Center
US Geological Survey
956 National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.