The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a two-year study Tuesday detailing the economic and societal effects of climate change on the U.S.
The U.S. government has spent $350 billion in response to severe weather such as hurricanes and wildfires over the past decade. Based on data the GAO compiled, the agency predicts the number is going to increase as greenhouse gases cause more disruption in the climate.
While the reports predicts a decrease in labor productivity equal to $150 billion by 2099 and a drop in crop yields as much as $53 billion, it also recognizes a direct link between natural disasters and climate change is difficult to find, according to The New York Times.
The report is the result of a joint request by Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington and GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
“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 TheNYT. “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.”
Despite the negative economic effects, climate change effects will only account for less than 1 percent of the current $3.1 trillion budget.
“These methods [of modeling the effects of climate change] are complex because they link different types of complicated climate and economic models to assess how projected changes in the climate could affect different sectors and regions,” the report states.
“They produce imprecise results because of information and modeling limitations,” the report continues. “Nonetheless, according to several experts we interviewed, the methods can convey useful insight into broad themes about potential climate damages across sectors in the United States.”
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