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Biden: New climate report shows urgency of threat

By Scott Waldman | 11/14/2023 01:20 PM EST

President Joe Biden speaks.

President Joe Biden speaks at the White House on Tuesday about climate change. Susan Walsh/AP

Climate change poses an existential threat to the United States, President Joe Biden said Tuesday.

At the White House, Biden spoke about the release of the Fifth , the congressionally mandated comprehensive report that uses contributions from hundreds of scientists across the country to show how global warming is affecting and changing American life and the economy. Biden said the report sounds a dire warning about inaction on combating the climate crisis.

“This assessment shows us in clear scientific terms that climate change is impacting all regions, all sectors of the United States, not just some, all,” he said. “It shows that communities across America are taking more action than ever to reduce climate risk.”

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The report confirms the climate reality in which many Americans now live, including deadly heat waves, flooding and wildfires. Each part of the country is affected.

The West is boiling under drought conditions while flooding is ravaging towns and villages across the Northeast, the report shows. Meanwhile, increasingly intense hurricanes are battering coastal states.

Billion-dollar disasters now occur on an average of every three weeks, rather than four months, as was the case in the 1980s, the report found. Food production is being compromised by hotter temperatures. Cultural sites are threatened. The economy is squeezed.

The release of the assessment also provides fodder for Biden’s reelection campaign. It is essentially a validation of his administration’s effort to cut emissions in half by 2030 and to shift the economy off fossil fuels toward clean energy.

“It warns that more action is still badly needed, we can’t be complacent,” Biden said.

The report also shows that the tools to cut emissions from fossil fuels exist today. That includes increasing clean energy sources, ramping up electric vehicle production, and protecting the forests and wetlands that store carbon dioxide.

Biden sounded a note of optimism, despite the report’s dire findings. He said the report was a call to unite in the effort to reduce carbon emissions, the primary driver of human-caused climate change.

“Above all, it shows that climate action offers an opportunity for the nation to come together and do some really big things,” he said.

Biden was introduced by Ritika Shah, a high school student who won a climate art competition. She called him the “greatest climate leader America has ever had.”

Shah spoke about the climate concerns she and her classmates share and their worry that more needs to be done.

Her comments are reflective of the youngest generation of voters, who could win or lose the election for Biden.

Young voters, who are far more likely to be concerned about climate change than older generations, have been a key to electoral victories for Biden and Democrats in every national election cycle since the 2018 midterms.

That is why Biden has made reaching those voters a central plank of his reelection campaign and why he and top administration officials have traveled the country for months touting his response to the climate crisis, most notably the Inflation Reduction Act and its $370 billion in clean energy funding.

On Tuesday, Biden announced another $6 billion to help communities across the country become more climate resilient.

Biden has also used climate as a defining issue that differentiates his administration and Trump’s.

At the White House event, he slammed Trump and “MAGA Republicans“ for denying climate science and said ignoring the issue would have dire consequences.

“Anyone who willfully denies the impact of climate change is condemning the American people to a very dangerous future,” he said.

Meanwhile, Trump has ridiculed climate science and made clear that if he is reelected, he will strip away much of the government’s climate work.

Trump has an established track record of attacking climate science. His administration unsuccessfully attempted to

Most notably, the Trump administration sought to bury the results of the National Climate Assessment by delaying its release until the day after Thanksgiving. Trump then responded to the assessment by telling reporters that he “didn’t believe it.”

His administration then sought to conduct a hostile review of the assessment by recruiting a team of climate science critics to downplay its significant findings, though the plan was eventually scuttled.

A return of that approach threatens American security, Biden said.

Biden said he has seen firsthand what the report makes clear, vast swaths of earth scorched by wildfires and towns destroyed by flooding.

“I’ve seen firsthand what the report makes clear, the devastating toll of climate change and its existential threat to all of us,” he said. “It is the ultimate threat to humanity.”