A 1,656-page report detailing the predicted impact of human-made climate change over the remainder of the 21st century, Volume Two of the National Climate Assessment was released by the White House last week in the shadow of the Thanksgiving holiday on “Black Friday.” Many agree that the timing of this report was likely a strategic approach to undermine the widespread impact of the report, given that the findings of the report directly contradict the administration’s stated political and ideological position on the topic. Even so, it is predicted that the report will be utilized in the courts as legal justification for the implementation of more aggressive environmental regulations, due to the pernicious and wide-ranging costs of climate-change outlined in the report.
Drawing upon research conducted by over 300 scientists associated with a consortium of 13 federal agencies, the report outlines the vast ecological, humanitarian, and economic challenges facing the US throughout the remainder of the century. Highlighting the interconnected nature of escalating climate change challenges, the report paints a grave picture of the future in terms of increased mortality and decreased quality of life, large-scale destruction and instability throughout all bio-regions of the nation, and fundamental challenges to current agricultural and infrastructure systems, all of which carry a hefty economic toll. This federal price tag is predicted to total a 10% decrease in federal GDP by the century’s end, which is twice that of the Great Recession of 2008.
Given the findings of this report, it is clear that our current business-as-usual practices of extractive environmental impact has already gone on too long and is responsible for increasing degradation and instability across our country and world. If our current political leaders cannot step forward to courageously lead us in the direction of long-term stability and abundance, even when the research of their own administration paints such a grave picture of the future, then it is the responsibility of each of us to help each other and ourselves to move toward life-sustaining practices at all scales from earth-based regeneration to collective healing. Some such practices include permaculture and sustainable development, restorative justice and egalitarian community building, localized economies, and implementing renewable energy infrastructure systems. Instead of contributing to degradation and exploitation, these practices promote well-being, interconnection, and prosperity for the earth and all living beings. The time is now to move toward the world we know is possible.