WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday rejected a central conclusion of a dire report on the economic costs of climate change released by his own administration.
But economists said the National Climate Assessment’s warning of hundreds of billions of dollars a year in global warming costs is pretty much on the money.
Just look at last year with Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, they said. Those three 2017 storms caused at least $265 billion in damage , according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The climate report , quietly unveiled Friday, warned that natural disasters are worsening in the United States because of global warming.
It said warming-charged extremes “have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration.” The report noted the last few years have smashed U.S. records for damaging weather, costing nearly $400 billion since 2015.
“The potential for losses in some sectors could reach hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of this century,” the report said. It added that if emissions of heat-trapping gases continue at current levels, labor costs in outdoor industries during heat waves could cost $155 billion in lost wages per year by 2090.
The president said he read some of the report “and it’s fine” but not the part about the devastating economic impact.
“I don’t believe it,” Trump said, adding that if “every other place on Earth is dirty, that’s not so good.”
Nearly every country in the world in 2015 pledged to reduce or slow the growth of carbon dioxide emissions, the chief greenhouse gas.
“We’re already there,” said Wesleyan University economist Gary Yohe, who was a reviewer of the national report, which was produced by 13 federal agencies and outside scientists. “Climate change is making a noticeable impact on our economy right now: Harvey, Florence, Michael, Maria.”
Yohe said, “It is devastating at particular locations, but for the entire country? No.”
Economist Ray Kopp, a vice president at the think tank Resources For the Future and who wasn’t part of the assessment, said the economics and the science in the report were absolutely credible.
“I believe this is going to be a devastating loss without any other action-taking place,” Kopp said Monday. “This is certainly something you would want to avoid.”
Earlier, the White House had played down the report.