While millions of Americans were shopping Black Friday deals across the country, the federal government issued a 1,700-page climate report. The report, formally called the National Climate Assessment, is the 4th such report following a Congressional mandate in 1990.

The science couldn’t be more clear. The climate is changing. And that change poses a serious threat to people, both their physical safety and their economic security. To do nothing at this point is worse than negligence, it’s crazy.

In summary, national climate scientists had this to say: “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century – more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many US states,” the report said. “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.”

Yet, conservative leadership wasn’t interested in facts. When asked to react to the assessment by reporters, Trump responded with skepticism and deflection.

“I’ve seen it. I’ve read some of it. It’s fine. … I don’t believe it,” he said.

He went on to seemingly blame Europe, Japan and China for not doing enough.

“Right now we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been,” Trump said. “It’s very important to me. … If we’re clean and everyone else is dirty, that’s not so good.”

That skepticism was amplified on Sunday morning news shows by Republican pundits. Pennsylvania’s own Rick Santorum said he thought climate scientists were only in it for the money, offering no evidence whatsoever.

“I think the point that Donald Trump makes is true, which is ‘Look, if there was no climate change, we’d have a lot of scientists looking for work,’” the former senator said. “The reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive.”

These responses can only be attributed to two factors, and neither of them speaks highly of their source. A climate science denier is either spectacularly ignorant or has a financial interest in the sort of fossil fuels that climate scientists say we need to curb.

While this country struggles to deal with myriad political and social issues, it’s hard to see how we could devote any bandwidth at all to curbing climate change. But we better figure it out soon because if even the most moderate results predicted by the climate assessment become reality, we’ll be struggling to survive against flooding, fires and food shortages.

There’s still time to act, but the clock is ticking.

To see the full report, including data and interactive charts, see nca2018.globalchange.gov

Pete Mazzaccaro

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