Climate report details deep hits to the Southwest

Climate change is here. It’s human-caused. And it’s going to deliver a blow to American prosperity. Already hard-hit by drought, wildfires and declining water supplies, the southwestern United States will continue to face those challenges — and new ones.

That’s the message from a federal report released over the holiday weekend about climate change and its impact on the U.S. economy and infrastructure.

Compiled by 13 federal agencies and more than 300 contributing authors, the peer-reviewed report reiterates much of what scientists have been explaining for decades. But it also clearly delineates the links between warming and extreme weather events — and warns of the increasingly expensive economic consequences that come from not addressing climate change.

The assessment is part of the United States Global Change Program, which has completed reports regularly since directed by Congress and then-President George H.W. Bush almost 30 years ago.

According to the assessment, rural and urban economies alike will suffer. Fisheries will decline, farming and ranching challenges will intensify and rising sea levels will push cities and neighborhoods back from the coasts. American infrastructure, from highways and rail lines to sea walls and electric grids, will also be affected by impacts from climate change. Even trade, including import and export prices, will be disrupted.

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