A tangle of politics and problems may force yet another delay in long-sought updates to the broke, beleaguered U.S. National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Congress has the unenviable task of putting NFIP back in the black without raising rates too quickly on folks who can’t afford to leave vulnerable coastal homes. And the weather isn’t helping.
The NFIP was due for reauthorization in September, after several years of challenge in the wake of the enormously costly Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Then came Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria this year—which complicated matters further by adding another $10-plus billion to the program’s $25-billion debt.
Congress passed a temporary extension of the NFIP that runs out in early December. There’s now a good chance that another extension will be needed, perhaps into 2018. The 21st Century Flood Reform Act, a House bill that appeared this week to be nearing a vote, instead found itself bottled up in committee. Several other draft bills in the House and Senate this year have failed to gain traction.
Highlights of the U.S. Global Change Research Program
Climate Science Special Report
The climate of the United States is strongly connected to the changing global climate. The statements below highlight past, current, and projected climate changes for the United States and the globe. Global annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8°F (1.0°C) over the last 115 years (1901–2016). This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization. The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, and the last three years have been the warmest years on record for the globe. These trends are expected to continue over climate timescales.
This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.
MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
Since its entry into force in 1994, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has been at the centre of international efforts to address global warming and the rising risks it represents to people and economies across the globe. The adoption and early entry into force of the Paris Agreement was a monumental achievement that has put every nation on Earth on a clear pathway and with a clear destination for delivering a safer and more secure future.
By Kmusser – Own work, Elevation data from SRTM, hydrologic data from the National Hydrography Dataset, urban areas from Vector Map, all other features from the National Atlas., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12520461
About this Report
This report summarizes and communicates the results of EPA’s ongoing Climate Change Impacts and Risk Analysis (CIRA) project. The goal of this work is to estimate to what degree climate change impacts and damages to multiple U.S. sectors (e.g., human health, infrastructure, and water resources) may be avoided or reduced in a future with significant global action to reduce GHG emissions, compared to a future in which current emissions continue to grow. Importantly, only a small portion of the impacts of climate change are estimated, and therefore this report captures just some of the total benefits of reducing GHGs.
Climate change is becoming an existential threat with warming in excess of 2°C within the next three decades and 4°C to 6°C within the next several decades. Warming of such magnitudes will expose as many as 75% of the world’s population to deadly heat stress in addition to disrupting the climate and weather worldwide. Climate change is an urgent problem requiring urgent solutions. This report lays out urgent and practical solutions that are ready for implementation now, will deliver benefts in the next few critical decades, and places the world on a path to achieving the longterm targets of the Paris Agreement and near-term sustainable development goals.
This is a pivotal report in US Environmental Law. It looked at whether the EPA was spending too many resources on low level toxic exposures, at the expense of other environmental risks, including climate change. It later became a cudgel in the fight to require cost benefit analysis for all environmental protections. The report is in five parts, the overview and four technical reports.
A draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public but was obtained by The New York Times, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. The report was completed this year and is part of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years.
(Redwood City, CA, San Rafael, CA, and Martinez, CA) – Faced with mounting costs to respond
to threats to their communities from rising sea levels, Marin and San Mateo Counties, along
with the City of Imperial Beach, today filed complaints in California Superior Court to hold
accountable 37 oil, gas, and coal companies for the ongoing harm they knew their fossil fuel
products would cause by significantly increasing carbon dioxide pollution and contributing
to global warming and sea level rise. The complaint states:
Defendants have known for nearly 50 years that greenhouse gas pollution from their
fossil fuel products has a significant impact on the Earth’s climate and sea levels…. With
that knowledge, Defendants took steps to protect their own assets from these threats
through immense internal investment in research, infrastructure improvements, and
plans to exploit new opportunities in a warming world.
Instead of working to reduce the use and combustion of fossil fuel products, lower the
rate of greenhouse gas emissions, minimize the damage associated with continued high
use and combustion of such products, and ease the transition to a lower carbon
economy, Defendants concealed the dangers, sought to undermine public support for
greenhouse gas regulation, and engaged in massive campaigns to promote the ever increasing
use of their products at ever greater volumes.