Climate change highlighted as major risk for the USFebruary 21, 2013
GAO report draws attention to climate change
Since 1990, the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) has worked to provide the country’s Congress with information concerning “high-risk areas” that could have some effect on the country’s stability, economically and otherwise. The government agency regularly provides federal legislators with a list of risk factors that often fall in the realm of fraud, waste, abuse of regulatory authority, corruption, and efficiency. These lists are often used by Congress to take measures to address areas of concern to some degree. Now, the GAO has issued a new report highlighting climate change as a high-risk area.
US officials still divided on controversial issue
The U.S. government has been divided on the issue of climate change. Many legislators have identified climate change as a serious issue and have been pushing the government to take more aggressive actions on the matter through the adoption of renewable energyand cutting subsidies for companies that deal primarily in fossil-fuels. Others have considered climate change little more than a minor issue backed by pseudoscience. According to the GAO, however, climate change is a critical issue that must be addressed in order to avoid economic problems in the future.
Report highlights financial risks of climate change
According to the GAO report, climate change represents a serious financial risk. The phenomenon is linked to stronger natural disasters, such as hurricanes, blizzards, and floods, that could cause billions of dollars in damage to properties throughout the country. Hurricane Sandy, which struck the East Coast in late 2012, is cited as a prime example for a storm empowered by climate change. GAO notes that the storm caused some $60 billion in damage to properties along the East Coast, but the costs associated with disruption of business are likely higher.
Several factors could spark economic and environmental problems
The GAO report also suggests that climate change represents risks to several environmental and economic systems. Agriculture, energy infrastructure, wildlife, and human health are all areas that can be influenced by the effects of climate change, rarely in a positive way. Severe weather events and increasing temperatures in already arid environments could cause population displacement, in turn increasing the strain on the country’s resources as displaced peoples move into dense population centers.