Climate change is already costing the U.S. government hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and in the future it will cost trillions more.
This was the message that Senator Maria Cantwell, the leading Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, relayed to the Senate on Tuesday.
In her speech, Cantwell cited a recent non partisan report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that reveals the economic impact of climate change.
According to GAO, the watchdog agency of Congress, over the last decade the total cost of disaster assistance, including flood and crop insurance losses, was over $350 billion dollars.
The estimate may seem unfathomably large, but it does not even take into account the destruction from the most recent bout of hurricanes and wildfires.
If nothing is done to curb climate change, the report estimates that those costs are expected to increase by as much as $35 billion per year by 2050.
The report blames the economic burden on the federal government, and argues that the government has not done enough to implement a strategic government-wide plan to manage climate risks.
The GAO report was commissioned in 2015 by Senator Cantwell and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) in order to find the true economic cost of climate change.
"My colleagues no longer have to take it from me — the Government Accountability Office tells us climate change will cost taxpayers more than a half a trillion dollars this decade, and trillions more in the future unless we mitigate the impacts," Cantwell said in a statement.
The report comes at a time when the federal government seems to be doing everything they can to ignore and deny the effects of climate change. In fact, the Trump administration has taken every opportunity to roll back climate change policies that limit carbon and methane emissions, safeguard the environment and protect public health.
"We cannot ignore the impact of climate change on our public health, our environment, and our economy," said Collins.
"This nonpartisan GAO report Senator Cantwell and I requested contains astonishing numbers about the consequences of climate change for our economy and for the federal budget in particular."
Watch Cantwell's speech to the Senate below: