EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler
The EPA published a report last week advising local governments to start planning for climate change, despite references by the agency’s administrator that the worst effects of global warming won’t be felt for another 50 to 75 years.
The new report, “Guidance about Planning for Natural Disaster Debris,” comes as the Trump administration is working to pare back efforts to combat climate change and to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.
The report is directed toward “communities at increased risk from natural disasters due to climate change,” it says.
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It notes that “According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, which is a detailed report on climate change impacts on the U.S., climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of some natural disasters. The amount of debris generated by natural disasters, and the costs to manage it, will likely increase as a result,” according to a report in the Washington Post.
It references climate change 22 times and, in many references, links global warming to specific sets of weather-related disasters such as wildfires, storms, and floods. Support for those links comes from the American Meteorological Society as well as data published on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate.gov website.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has taken an opposite approach, telling CBS This Morning, in a March interview designed to promote the agency’s new focus on clean drinking water, that while problems with drinking water are immediate, “most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.”
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The release of the report is reminiscent of another required government report on climate change which showed that climate change could cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year, or about 10 percent of GDP by 2100. It was released on Black Friday, in the middle of Thanksgiving Day weekend, at the height of holiday shopping.
That report also tied climate change to hurricanes, flooding, droughts, crop failures, heat waves, and wildfires. The latest report ties it to expensive debris streams from those events.
In a way, the political disconnect may come down to those who are more concerned about the cost of mitigating climate change versus those who are more worried about the cost of adapting to it. These latest government reports lay out the severe costs of adapting to climate change difference between paying for efforts to mitigate climate change and paying to adapt to it.
Several studies over the years have shown that the costs of mitigating climate change are significantly lower than those of adapting to it.
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