For many Americans, climate change has long seemed like something remote in space and time, a crisis that would affect people in other places a long time into the future. For skeptics, it seemed like we didn’t have to prioritize climate mitigation in order to build a secure and prosperous American republic, even when thinking decades into the future. We are only just now beginning to see that the destabilization of Earth’s climate system is bringing real impacts directly into our communities, in the here and now.
The Third National Climate Assessment, released last month, makes this clear: Climate change is happening now, and it is affecting our economy and our daily lives in disruptive ways, and costs of dealing with this ongoing destabilization will only increase over time. In fact, the report specifically finds that “The observed warming and other climatic changes are triggering wide-ranging impacts in every region of our country and throughout our economy.”