On the heels of last week’s report on climate change that blamed the world’s increasing emissions on climate disruption, climate researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have published a study showing that if we can’t avoid future warming, it could cost us all.
The researchers found that without action to address climate change, the US could lose its status as the top carbon emitter in the world and face a future of “drought and famine” and other negative impacts.
The study, published today in the journal Science Advances, found that if current climate policy is not reversed by 2030, the country could see “a decline in crop production, food availability, water availability, and quality of life” by 2050.
It also found that “in the long run, a shift in the global climate to warmer climates and less intense precipitation will significantly affect global food security and the economic and social well-being of many countries.”
This “droughts and famines” scenario would likely affect most of the world, the study found.
“In the short run, there are many scenarios where the world could experience severe drought, famine, and climate disruption,” said lead author Daniel D’Agostino, a PhD student at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.
“But the worst case scenarios are already becoming increasingly likely.”
The study also found, however, that the costs of inaction would be enormous.
According to the authors, “The US alone could face up to $9 trillion in lost economic output by 2050 if the climate change mitigation actions we have already taken do not make a difference.”
The US is currently the world leader in emissions of greenhouse gases.
The report notes that the United States emitted 830 gigatons of CO2 in 2025, a figure that has since risen to 1,742 gigatos, or 4.7 percent of global emissions.
The US has not yet released its greenhouse gas emissions for the next 10 years.
According the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the United Kingdom is projected to have the highest annual rate of CO 2 emissions at 923 gigatones, and China and India are projected to see emissions of 1,872 gigatens and 7.4 percent of annual emissions.
In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report saying that the country is on track to meet its climate change goals, and that by 2030 the US will meet its targets.
The National Climate Assessment in 2018 also found the US is on the right track in its emissions reduction efforts, with its emissions reduced by about 26 percent since 2009, and the US now emits about 15 percent less CO2 than it did in 1990.