A new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency highlights that significant cuts in CO2 emissions would save the lives of tens of thousands of Americans and save tens of billions of dollars.
This report was designed to make it easy to understand exactly what we will be preventing if we start actively taking steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions right now, as well as illustrating the catastrophic consequences of more “business as usual.”
More on EPA report on CO2 emissions
The EPA report is titled “Climate Change in the U.S. – Benefits of Global Action,” looks at what will likely happen by 2050 and by 2100 if action to reduce CO2 emissions is taken or if nothing is done. Taking action is defined as policies that will limit the increase in the average global temperature to about 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Of note, that is the point at which an irreversible cycle of climate change will begin to take hold.
Huge economic benefits could be derived and many negative human consequences could be minimized if greenhouse gases are reduced, according to the report.
Key benefits from reducing CO2 emissions include:
13,000 fewer deaths from poor air quality in the U.S. by 2050, and 57,000 fewer by 2100. Moreover, as many as 12,000 fewer deaths from extreme temperatures in big cities by 2100 can also be avoided;
Agricultural losses due to increased droughts and floods could be reduced by $3.8 billion in 2050 and $11 billion by 2100;
Around $18 billion in lost labor hours could be avoided by 2050, and $110 billion by 2100. Much of these losses are projected to relate to extreme heat and weather that impacts outside work such as construction;
Greatly reducing the number of bridges and roads damaged and/or destroyed due to extreme weather. Reducing the amount of electricity needed, fewer expensive adjustments to rising sea levels and expensive measures required to ensure clean water;
Saving cold-water trout streams in the Northeast;
Reducing the number of acres lost to wildfire my many millions;
Significantly reducing flooding across the country and helping to preserve coral reefs in Hawaii that might be completely lost to global warming.
The researchers who produced the report were from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, federal energy research laboratories and private consulting firms.
Statement from EPA researcher
“We’ll have more and more times in which labor is just not possible,” noted Jeremy Martinich, an environmental scientist with the EPA’s climate change division, commenting on how climate change leads to losses in labor hours. “That results in productivity losses.”