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Federal Report Shows Climate Impacts On Economy, Health

Jessica Hill
Homes are seen flooded in East Haven, Conn., after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Sandy caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the federal government quietly released more than 1,000 pages explaining how climate change will affect public health and the economy.

The report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is part two of one released last fall that says climate change can only be explained by human activity.

Dr. David Easterling from NOAA helped compile the work of more than 300 federal scientists.

“Observations of global average temperature provide clear and compelling evidence that global average temperature is much higher and is rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has experienced. And, this warming trend can only be explained by human activities, especially the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” Easterling said.

The report also says the Northeast is on track for more frequent heavy rainfall, which Easterling said will overwhelm aging roads, bridges and even sewer systems, which could contaminate drinking water sources.  

“Extreme events such as heavy precipitation continue to increase and will increase in the future, leading to increased risk of flooding and other hazards.”

The region will also be at risk of losing its cultural identity centered around the four seasons, including skiing, leaf-peeping and seafood.

The economic impact of losing seasonal tourism could greatly hurt rural communities that profit from New York and Boston-area visitors.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.
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