Quantcast
Climate

Government Accountability Office Urges Trump to Act on Climate Change

President Trump might think that global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese, but the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress's nonpartisan auditing arm, is urging the administration to craft a plan to confront climate change or else it will have to deal with its massive economic consequences.

According to a new report released by the GAO, the U.S. government has already spent more than $350 billion over the past decade on dealing with natural disasters and losses from flood and crop insurance. The tally does not even include the economic toll from this year's horrific West Coast fires and successive hurricanes, which is estimated to cost at least $300 billion.


Costs will also soar—as much as $35 billion per year by mid-century—if global emission rates are not reduced, the study warns.

"The federal government has not undertaken strategic government-wide planning to manage climate risks by using information on the potential economic effects of climate change to identify significant risks and craft appropriate federal responses," the study states. "By using such information, the federal government could take the initial step in establishing government-wide priorities to manage such risks."

The report, which features interviews with more than two dozen scientific and economic experts and 30 studies, was requested by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

"The Government Accountability Office—if you will, the chief bean counter—is basically telling us that this is costing us a lot of money," Cantwell told the New York Times. "We need to understand that as stewards of the taxpayer that climate is a fiscal issue, and the fact that it's having this big a fiscal impact on our federal budget needs to be dealt with."

The Senators hope that the study will prompt Congress and the administration to move towards a bipartisan solution to fight the effects of a warming world.

"My hope is the administration will take a look at this report and realize there is an economic impact here that is significant," Collins told the Times. "We simply cannot afford the billions of dollars in additional funding that's going to be needed if we do not take into account the consequences of climate change."

Trump, however, has notoriously pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement and rolled back several Obama-era environmental regulations designed to address climate change, including the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. The president's EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has close links to the fossil fuel industry and once said that carbon dioxide is not the primary driver of global warming.

Robert N. Stavins, an economist at Harvard University, cast doubt the study would convince the government to act.

“The GAO study is conservative, it's not alarmist, it's realistic and balanced and they go out of their way to point out all of the uncertainties involved," Stavins told the Times. “I don't see any likelihood it's going to be taken seriously."

Indeed, the price tag from the GAO's study is drastically lower than estimates from other recent reports. The non-profit Universal Ecological Fund found that extreme weather and public health issues related to burning fossil fuels could cost the U.S. up to $360 billion annually—nearly half of annual U.S. economic growth—within the next ten years.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Oceans
Enipniastes eximia, aka "headless chicken monster." NOAA

'Headless Chicken Monster' to Help Antarctic Conservation Efforts

Enypniasties eximia—a deep-sea swimming sea cucumber scientists have affectionately called the "headless chicken monster"has been caught on camera for the first time in Antarctic waters thanks to new underwater camera technology developed by Australian researchers.

Footage of the finned sea creature will be used to aid important marine conservation efforts in the Southern Ocean.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Animal Collective performing at The Concord in Chicago on Feb. 2, 2016. swinfinfan / CC BY 2.0

Animal Collective’s 'Tangerine Reef': Myth, Mystery and Subtle Environmentalism

By David Colgan

In a way, you could consider coral reefs the rainforests of the oceans—dense, mysterious and full of life.

Covering less than two percent of the ocean floor, they are home to a quarter of all marine species. But unlike rainforests, a longtime conservation focus, corals have received relatively little attention. The alien-looking seascapes have captivated explorers, divers and others privileged enough to visit, but remained largely out of sight for most people.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Giant Petrel flying over the South Atlantic. Liam Quinn / CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s Giant Mice Vs. Rare Seabirds on This Remote South Atlantic Island

On a remote island in the South Atlantic, a evolutionary battle is playing out between giant mice and rare sea birds. So far, the mice are winning.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Some of the young plaintiffs in landmark climate case Juliana v. United States. Our Children's Trust

Supreme Court Puts Historic Youth Climate Lawsuit on Hold

The U.S. Supreme Court put a landmark climate case on pause Friday while it considers a last-ditch attempt by the Trump administration to stop it from proceeding to trial, Climate Liability News reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Annette Bernhardt / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

3 Things You Can Do to Help Avoid Climate Disaster

By Stephanie Feldstein

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a dire warning last week: We need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and we need to do it fast to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Jess Lundgren / CC BY 2.0

The Trump Administration’s ‘Dishonest’ Attack on Fuel-Economy Standards

By John R. Platt

The Trump administration's plan to freeze fuel-economy standards is "the most spectacular regulatory flip-flop in history," said a retired EPA engineer who helped to develop new the standards under the Obama administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Adventure
Lizzie Carr traveling down the Hudson River on her stand-up paddleboard. Max Guliani / The Hudson Project

Her Stand-Up Paddleboard Is a Platform for Campaigning Against Plastic Pollution

By Patrick Rogers

Lizzie Carr was navigating a stretch of the Hudson River north of Yonkers, New York, recently when she spotted it—a hunk of plastic so large and out of place that she was momentarily at a loss to describe it.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
The Ross Ice Shelf at the Bay of Whales. Michael Van Woert, NOAA

Scientists Study Ice Shelf by Listening to Its Changing Sounds

By Marlene Cimons

Researchers monitoring vibrations from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf were flabbergasted not long ago to hear something unexpected—the ice was "singing" to them. "We were stunned by a rich variety of time-varying tones that make up this newly described sort of signal," said Rick Aster, professor of geosciences at Colorado State University, one of the scientists involved in the study.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!