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For nearly everyone on Earth, the costs of climate change are mounting

At least 85 percent of the world's population has been impacted by human-induced climate change, according to a new report.

It’s been nearly two months since Hurricane Ida ravaged areas of the eastern United States — and the fallout of its deadly destruction continues to reverberate across the region.

At least 26 people were killed in Louisiana, where Ida made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in late August. The storm went on to claim dozens more lives in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the days that followed.

The broad reach of catastrophic weather events like Ida, which experts have largely attributed to global warming, are a reminder that the climate crisis poses a serious risk to much of the country — and much of the world.

The climate crisis poses a serious risk to much of the country — and much of the world.

Research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change found roughly 85 percent of the world’s population has been impacted by human-induced climate change.

The study could have implications for the future of international relations, with climate-related events prompting mass migration in recent years. The United States is one of the biggest culprits driving climate change. Some of the effects have been seen, while others are still unfolding.

To assemble data, the researchers used machine-learning to comb through more than 100,000 studies on climate-related events. Their research uses extreme weather events, along with more discreet changes such as a region’s snow melt and its increase in certain animal populations, to paint a full picture of areas that have already been devastated by climate change and areas that could see more extreme change in the future. 

The study showed the U.S.' east and west coasts have experienced some of the most  detectable climate changes, along with parts of the world such as South Asia, Europe and Australia. 

Image: A destroyed home in floodwater.
A destroyed home in floodwater after Hurricane Ida in Pointe-Aux-Chenes, Louisiana, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.Mark Felix / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Data on the financial implications of climate disasters is sobering. The U.S. incurred more than $104 billion in disaster costs in the first nine months of 2021, “already surpassing the disaster costs for all of 2020,” according to a report released by the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration earlier this month.

Unless investments are made to protect against the impacts of climate disasters, those costs will continue to rise. Another study released Monday — this one from the nonprofit group First Street Foundation, which studies flood threats in the U.S. — found at least 25 percent of critical infrastructure across the country is at risk of failure due to flooding.

It is fitting that all this follows weeks of haggling from conservatives in the Senate, worried President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and social spending bills — both of which address climate change — are too costly. It’s also fitting that the Senate is recessing this week, as if to drive home the point that many of its members are completely unmoved by the climate debate.

These two new studies on the increasingly dire climate situation across the globe should be a wake-up call for Americans and any others who need it. The crisis is continuing, and its costs are mounting.

Head over to The ReidOut Blog for more.


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