Impact of climate change already being felt White House report says

Americans said to be affected by coastal flooding and more intense wildfires

Vehicles rest at the bottom of a ravine after the Scenic Highway collapsed near Pensacola, Florida last week. Photograph: AP Photo

Vehicles rest at the bottom of a ravine after the Scenic Highway collapsed near Pensacola, Florida last week. Photograph: AP Photo

Wed, May 7, 2014, 01:00

More than half the US population lives in coastal areas that are “increasingly vulnerable” to the effects of climate change, which will ripple throughout the US economy, a White House advisory group’s report concluded.

The report released yesterday said the impact of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is already affecting Americans, with coastal flooding, heavier downpours and more intense wildfire episodes. And more changes are coming.

“The real bottom line is that climate change is not a distant threat,” John Holdren, the White House science adviser, said yesterday. “It’s already affecting different regions in the country.”

The findings may bolster President Barack Obama’s energy and environmental agenda, as well as his proposals to prepare the US to deal with global warming. The administration is focusing on climate change policies this week in conjunction with the release of the report, said John Podesta, who’s overseeing the president’s climate plans.

The warming climate will affect broad sectors of the US 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.

Republicans such as senators John Barrasso of Wyoming and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said the administration was using climate change to support new regulations they say would eliminate jobs. “The president is attempting to once again distract Americans from his unchecked regulatory agenda that is costing our nation millions of job opportunities and our ability to be energy independent,” Mr Inhofe said.

The report will give state and local government officials the information they need to plan for the impact of climate change, said Mr Podesta. – (Bloomberg)