Global temperatures were the highest on record in 2016 for the third straight year, scientists at NASA and elsewhere reported last week. This is just the latest proof of rapid climate change that has experts and governments around the world deeply alarmed. And yet President Trump and many other Republicans have so far paid no political price for questioning or downplaying the scientific evidence on climate change and undermining environmental policies that reduce risk.
One reason for their apparent immunity is that climate denialists exaggerate the economic costs of laws that aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, advocates of effective climate policies have lacked hard numbers on the current and future economic toll of global warming.
But this is starting to change. Over the past several years, a number of peer-reviewed studies have established that climate change is already costing American taxpayers and consumers tens of billions of dollars. As these costs to businesses, states and the federal budget mount, Trump and Congress may finally face pressure to act.
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