The scientific evidence on climate change has grown increasingly stark. Continued warming will further destabilize our climate and produce more frequent and intense storms, wildfires, and heatwaves as well as more damaging droughts and more extensive ecosystem losses. In August 2021, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report in which 234 of the world’s leading scientists, citing over 14,000 different studies, concluded with high confidence that the climate crisis is a “code red for humanity.”
This year alone, extreme weather has upended the U.S. economy and affected one in three Americans. Wildfires have burned nearly six million acres of land—equivalent to the total land mass of Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined—and destabilized international supply chains. After carving its destructive path through the Gulf of Mexico and stalling commodity exports to the world, Hurricane Ida took down the New York City subway system for hours, dumping a record 3.15 inches of rain in a single hour and bringing commerce in the most populous city in the United States to a halt.1 On the other side of the country, the Hoover Dam’s Lake Mead reached its lowest level since the dam was built in 1931, causing the government to declare the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River and prompting water cutbacks for regional farmers and the economies they support. As this year draws to a close, the total damage of extreme weather will build upon the $99 billion already incurred by American taxpayers in 2020.
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Protecting Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Communities
The burdens of climate change, including the disruptions caused by climate-related financial risks, will fall disproportionately on disadvantaged communities and communities of color.17 Climate risk will particularly impact the millions of Americans who live in underinvested and overburdened communities. Recent research shows these disadvantaged communities are disproportionately exposed to extreme weather as a result of climate change.18
Download the 40-page report here.