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Climate change threatening ‘things Americans value most,’ U.S. report says

John F. Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, speaks during a briefing at the State Department on Wednesday. (Susan Walsh/AP)
John F. Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, speaks during a briefing at the State Department on Wednesday. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Climate change is unleashing “far-reaching and worsening” calamities in every region of the United States, and the economic and human toll will only increase unless humans move faster to slow the planet’s warming, according to a sprawling new federal report released Monday.

“The things Americans value most are at risk,” the National Climate Assessment authors, who represent a broad range of federal agencies, write in the draft report. “Many of the harmful impacts that people across the country are already experiencing will worsen as warming increases, and new risks will emerge.”

The congressionally mandated assessment, last issued under the Trump administration in 2018, comes as world leaders gather this week in Egypt for a U.N. Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, aimed at prodding nations to tackle the problem with more urgency.

The report’s authors detail how climate-fueled disasters are becoming more costly and more common, and how the science is more clear than ever that rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are needed to slow the profound changes that are underway.

Humans have pushed the climate into ‘unprecedented’ territory, landmark U.N. report finds

The draft report, which probably will be finalized next year after a period of public comment and peer review, finds that in a world that has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, the situation in the United States is even more extreme.

“Over the past 50 years, the U.S. has warmed 68 percent faster than the planet as a whole,” the report finds, noting that the change reflects a broader global pattern in which land areas warm faster than the ocean, and higher latitudes warm more rapidly than lower latitudes.

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