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US Climate Report Says Weather Disasters Will Get Worse

2018-11-26

A new U.S. government report says climate change is affecting the United States. It warns that the danger of destructive weather events -- from powerful storms to extremely dry weather and wildfires -- is worsening.

Some findings are in conflict with the statements and policies of President Donald Trump.

The report, called the Fourth National Climate Assessment, was released on November 23. It was written long before the deadly fires in California this month and before Hurricanes Florence and Michael struck the East Coast.

The report noted that new U.S. records for destructive weather have been set in recent years. Weather-related damage has cost nearly $400 billion since 2015, The Associated Press reported.

The climate assessment report

The climate assessment is required by law every few years. It was based on more than 1,000 earlier research studies. More than 300 researchers in 13 U.S. government offices and agencies prepared the report. It explains how the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is affecting different areas of the country and how this affects the U.S. economy, including energy and agriculture.

The report noted that temperatures in the Lower 48 states have risen 1 degree Celsius since the year 1900. By the end of the 21st century, the country will be 1.6 to 6.6 degrees higher, depending on how much pollution is released into the atmosphere. Studies have linked the temperature increase to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The climate assessment warned of longer and more powerful disasters resulting, at least in part, from rising temperatures. It said weather disasters are becoming more commonplace and warned that without aggressive action, they could become much worse.

The report avoids proposing policy changes. But it said that people must take steps to stop future weather disasters “to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.”

“Future risks from climate change depend primarily on decisions made today,” the report said.

An aerial photo shows damaged and destroyed homes after Hurricane Michael smashed into Florida's northwest coast in Mexico Beach, Oct. 12, 2018.
An aerial photo shows damaged and destroyed homes after Hurricane Michael smashed into Florida's northwest coast in Mexico Beach, Oct. 12, 2018.

Trump administration downplays report

The Trump administration is downplaying the importance of the findings. It says the report was largely based on “the most extreme scenario” and fails to consider new technology and other actions that could reduce carbon emissions and the effects of climate change.

A White House spokeswoman noted that, since 2005, carbon dioxide emissions related to energy production in the United States have dropped 14 percent. Yet emissions worldwide continue to rise.

The Trump administration has eased enforcement of several environmental rules enacted during the presidency of Barack Obama. The administration also has a campaign for the production of fossil fuels like coal.

Last year, President Trump announced plans to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris Agreement. He said the agreement would hurt the U.S. economy and said there was little evidence it would improve the environment.

The measure, signed by nearly 200 countries, sets rules for fighting climate change.

I'm Alice Bryant.

The Associated Press and VOA News reported this story. George Grow wrote the report for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

greenhousen. a glass-covered building used for the protection of plants; adj. – of or relating to rising temperatures on Earth’s surface

emission – n. something being released, usually into the air

primarilyadj. mainly

scenario – n. a series of possible actions or events

decade – n. a 10-year period

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