More than half the U.S. population lives in coastal areas that are "increasingly vulnerable" to the effects of climate change, which will ripple throughout the U.S. economy, a White House advisory group’s report concluded.
The report released today enumerates the impact across the U.S., including a 71 percent increase in heavy rain and snow in the Northeast during the past half-century and an increased risk from hurricanes linked to higher sea levels.
The warming climate will affect broad sectors of the economy, from infrastructure along the densely populated corridor from Washington to New York to Boston, to crops in the Midwest farm belt to water supplies in growing cities of the Southwest, the authors concluded.
"Global climate change is projected to continue to change over this century and beyond, but there is still time to act to limit the amount of change and the extent of damaging impacts," the report said.
The findings may bolster President Barack Obama’s energy and environmental agenda, as well as his proposals to prepare the U.S. to deal with global warming. The administration is focusing on climate change policies this week in conjunction with the release of the report, according to John Podesta, an Obama adviser who’s overseeing the president’s climate plans.
"This assessment is about presenting actionable science," Podesta told reporters yesterday. The intent is to give officials in state and local governments the information they need to plan for the impact of climate change.
"We obviously need all hands on deck if we’re going to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change," Podesta said.
In his last budget, Obama asked Congress to approve a $1 billion Climate Resilience Fund. It would pay for research to better understand the effect of climate change on rural areas, cities and their public works programs, and help them prepare to reduce future risks such as rising water, higher-than-average temperatures and more frequent severe weather.
Some of the effects of climate change can be reduced by enhancing coastal wetlands and supporting urban forests, according to budget documents.