The Cost of Climate Change

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The mega-drought squeezing Californians’ water supply and the state’s $45 billion-per-year agriculture industry is just the latest example of how climate change is threatening to drain state and local government budgets and hurt consumers’ pocketbooks and businesses’ bottom lines. This week, President Barack Obama’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience is meeting in Los Angeles to tackle a big question: How can the federal government help communities upgrade the United States’ infrastructure to withstand more frequent and severe heat waves, storms, floods, and other climate-change-driven events?  On Capital Hill, lawmakers are seeking answers to similar questions this week at the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s hearing on “Extreme Weather: the Costs of Not Being Prepared.”

Americans rightly expect that the infrastructure we all rely on every day—from roads and bridges to power plants, electric grids, drinking water, and wastewater treatment facilities—is safe and structurally sound. Yet last year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our nation’s infrastructure a D+ rating and estimated that the investments needed to modernize it would reach $3.6 trillion by 2020.

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