The Fourth National Climate Assessment

Photo: Hurricane damage in Florida


Friday afternoon the government released its Fourth National Climate Assessment, mandated by Congress. Friday afternoon of the four-day weekend, of course, is a good time to bury it. But we’ve become accustomed to these tactics, and the report did not go unnoticed.

Thirteen government agencies contributed. The report looks solid, an indication that Donald Trump and his climate deniers couldn’t mess with the agencies’ mandates. This is a pattern that has shown up before in sanctions against Russia. Trump tweets one thing, his political appointees toe his line, and the agencies do their job. It’s encouraging that parts of the government can do their jobs.

Unfortunately, the report is written in relatively difficult language, so it’s slow going. Here are the summary findings.

Communities. Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.

Economy. Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.

Interconnected Impacts. Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.

Actions to Reduce Risks. Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and costs associated with climate change by taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions and implement adaptation strategies. While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.

Water. The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.

Health. Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.

Indigenous Peoples. Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and ecological systems.

Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services. Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being altered by climate change, and these impacts are projected to continue. Without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative impacts on some ecosystems will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such transformational changes.

Agriculture. Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.

Infrastructure. Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.

Oceans & Coasts. Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaptation measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of this century, with impacts affecting other regions and sectors. Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values.

Tourism and Recreation. Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways.

There’s not much surprising, although changes seem to be taking place more rapidly than anyone expected.

The New York Times, Washington Post, and AP all have pretty good summaries.



Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Assassinating Journalist Not Perceived As Hoped by Saudi Arabia… or Donald Trump

Late Night Open Thread: Toxic Narcissist Resents Some Other Arrogant White Dude Sucking Up All the Attention

If that Kavanaugh dude is distracting everybody by being an aggressive misogynist, Donny Dollhands is more than ready to up the ante…

Read more

Sherpas for forensic accountants

The Cohen information sure as hell seemed like it was screaming systemic tax and accounting fraud in the Trump Organization given how he was reimbursed.

And now the Trump Organization CFO has immunity. I bet his future job will be to sherpa forensic accountants hired by both the Federal government and the State of New York through the Trump Organization’s books. But I am neither a lawyer nor an accountant…

Open thread.

Distribution, net health expenditures and single payer

This week there were two very different groups that evaluated two different single payer proposals.

The Mercatus Center, a liberterian group, evaluated Senator Sanders (I-VT) Medicare for all proposal.

The Rand Corporation evaluated the New York Health Act.

Both proposals made some strong assumptions on provider pricing and implementation challenges but I think both groups made reasonable estimates of a good case scenario for advocates. And both groups came in with roughly the same type of conclusions:

  1. Total health expenditures would go down slightly (~2%) at the end of the implementation period
  2. Government health expenditures would go up a lot
  3. Everyone would get covered
  4. Significant distribution of costs and benefits are not uniform in the population.

This last point is key.  Single payer produces winners and losers.

The tweet above is the distribution of average winners and losers of moving to single payer in New York. This only looks at changes in taxes, premiums and cost sharing. On average, people who are in the bottom 90% of the income distribution are better off with single payer.  People in the top 10% of the distribution are worse off.  I think this graph understates the change as doctors are a disproprortionately likely to be members of the top 10% so they’ll get hit coming and going.

People who have something to lose will scream a whole lot more than people who are promised future yet to be delivered benefits/improvements.

Mechanically designing a single payer system is fairly straightforward in the American context.  Levers can be twisted, knobs turned, incentives tweaked, budgets adjusted.  Different people with different values will move those interacting variables in different manners, but a clear logic model to implement a version of single payer can emerge.

The challenge with single payer systems in the United States is the political problem. It is the problem of managing both change-aversion and juggling the trade-offs that produce happy but not motivated winners and extremely loud and angry losers who were well positioned in the status quo and are losing their advantages.

That is the challenge, not the mechanics per se.

An Op-Ed About Some Other Workers In The Heartland

Sarah Smarsh gives us the other side that the news media have ignored.

Most struggling whites I know here live a life of quiet desperation, mad at their white bosses, not resentful toward their co-workers or neighbors of color.

It turns out that a great many working class whites are not the bigots and Trump-lovers that the MSM has portayed. There are large groups of people who think differently, but somehow they just didn’t show up when a New York Times or Washington Post reporter parachuted into Clover Corners, Ohio.

The trouble begins with language: Elite pundits regularly misuse “working class” as shorthand for right-wing white guys wearing tool belts. My father, a white man and lifelong construction worker who labors alongside immigrants and people of color on job sites across the Midwest and South working for a Kansas-based general contractor owned by a woman, would never make such an error.

And, whocoodanode –

Like many Midwestern workers I know, my dad has more in common ideologically with New York’s Democratic Socialist congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez than with the white Republicans who run our state. Having spent most of his life doing dangerous, underpaid work without health insurance, he supports the ideas of single-payer health care and a universal basic income.

She lists news stories that have gone undercovered in the race to find the Trumpiest heartland voters – like barriers to voting. Seems strange that reporters so devoted to getting both sides of a story never found this one.

Read the whole thing.  Good to keep in mind in place of today’s sexytime news dump.

And open thread!

Not the least that can be done

The Senate has had a busy day.

First, Senators Scott (R-SC) and Rubio (R-FL) temporarily allied with a unified Democratic caucus to assemble a minimum blocking coalition to a nominee for a lifetime appointment on the 9th Circuit Court:

And then a bit later in the afternoon, the entire Senate told the White House to get a clue that it was being trolled by Putin:

So the Senate as a body and individual Senators in a closely divided body found ways to assert their institutional and personal prerogatives.

Baby Steps

Open thread