New climate report is ‘an immediate call to action,’ says Johns Hopkins engineer Ben Hobbs
On Friday, 13 federal agencies and the U.S. Global Change Research Program issued an exhaustive report that warns of the consequences of climate change in the United States. The culmination of years of research and analysis by the country’s top climate scientists, the 1,656-page National Climate Assessment report details the dangers of unchecked global warming on the economy, human health, and the environment.
Some parts of the U.S. economy, the report’s authors predict, could suffer hundreds of billions of dollars in annual losses by the end of the century. In just the last four years, damaging weather events have cost an estimated $400 billion.
The report, which is mandated by Congress and released every four years, warns of the continued rise of extreme events like wildfires, floods, droughts, and storm surges. Large wildfires, like the ones that recently affected vast areas of California, will become more frequent and widespread. Crop failures, such as those experienced in the Midwest, will become more commonplace, and yields from major U.S. crops are expected to decline due to rising temperatures and pest outbreaks.
The warming climate and more frequent rain in areas may also expand the range of ticks and mosquitoes, exposing more people to diseases like West Nile, dengue fever, and Lyme. Heat-related deaths will increase.
The Hub caught up with Ben Hobbs, a professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering and founding director of the Johns Hopkins Environment, Energy, Sustainability and Health Institute, to discuss the significance of the National Climate Assessment report and where we go from here. Hobbs has spent the past two decades working on issues related to power generation, climate change, and air and water quality.