Climate change is bad for everyone. But this is

Akash Arjun
Akash Arjun

Global Courant 2023-05-08 16:41:23

If you’re thinking about a long-term real estate investment or looking for a place to settle down for 20 or 30 years, you may be wondering which cities or states would do better than others in a changing climate.

“There are no winners in a world where climate change is getting worse,” said Adam Kamins, director of regional economics at Moody’s Analytics and author of a recent study on climate risks in the United States.

Climate change increases long-term risk almost everywhereKamins and others said. Temperatures are rising. Oceans are warming and rising. And scientists say the heat and higher sea levels are making some natural disasters more extreme.

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The effects vary widely over time and space, so it’s hard to make a definitive ranking that says “buy here, not there,” but a growing body of evidence helps highlight some general trends.

USA TODAY viewed data from First Street And Moody’s Analytics – two organizations researching future climate risks – to see which parts of the country are most at risk from these climate impacts over the next 30 years.

Insurers and mortgage companies are asking the same kinds of questions, Kamins said. Banks are being asked to “stress test their portfolios in preparation for the impact of climate change.”

While locations with the highest risks are obvious – think Florida – others may surprise you.

Here’s your guide to what, when and where to expect the worst impacts from climate change in the US

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Every region sees risks

Climate change will have uneven impacts on the US for decades to come. Some areas may experience more heat, more flooding, more extreme storms or more intense wildfires – or all of the above.

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The U.S. won’t see any sites submerged or wiped off the map in the next 30 years, Kamins said, but access to fresh water and insurance premiums will become more challenging.

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“Each year it becomes more and more crystal clear just the amount of risk we face, whether it’s increasingly serious natural disasters or drought and heat risks,” he said. “In some cases, it creates renewed momentum or an entirely new momentum for governments and businesses that hadn’t previously given serious thought to the impacts of climate change.”

Everyone loses when others are affected because we all depend on goods and services from other states and countries, said climate scientist Michael Mann, director of the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability and the Media at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s a domino effect.”

East Coast: Winds, flooding and sea-level rise are piling up the deck against many counties and states, especially Florida and the Carolinas, Kamins said. Bustling economies and the distance to the beach still draw people in droves, but at some point the tide will literally turn against communities along beaches and coastal rivers.

Southwest: Heat and fire pose increasing risks, especially in Arizona, he said, even without considering the dangers of dwindling water supplies.

Interior: Intense heat can affect these states most in runaway warming scenarios, Mann said. Sudden downpours with unprecedented rain are also more common, even though these states are not located in hurricane-prone coastal areas. A study he co-authored showed some of the biggest risks of heat stress could be in urban areas in the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes.

Idaho to Minnesota: A range of northern U.S. states look better than most, with less pronounced risks, Kamins said. Recent statistics on an influx of newcomers to Idaho and the burgeoning tech hub in Boise show that people may be figuring that out. He expects Montana could be the next frontier in 10-20 years.

What are the causes of climate change? How can it be stopped?

What are the effects of climate change? Disasters, weather conditions and consequences for agriculture.

States that may be more likely to experience more climate change

Texas – Due to its sheer size and geographic location, Texas is at risk. The data from First Street shows some of its counties are at high risk of wildfiresa face higher potential losses from tropical cyclonic winds and some have a greater flood risk. According to information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Lone Star State is leading the nation in billion-dollar disasters. It has an average of 5.3 such events per year, double the number it has experienced in the previous 20, even adjusted for inflation.

Florida – 8,346 miles of coastline, surrounded by water on three sides. Need we say more? Rising sea levels and extreme rainfall fueled by warming oceans, with the potential for more intense hurricanes as more people crowd into densely populated areas, increase the risks. Florida has the most top spots on First Street’s list counties that saw the greatest increase in the number of days with the highest temperatures they experience today.

New Jersey – The Garden State has some of the top counties First Street’s lists for possible increases in average annual wind losses, extreme fire hazard and property at risk of flooding. New Jersey suffered three hurricanes or their remnants in 2021-22, inclusive Hurricane IdaHurricane Henri and the last remnants of Hurricane Ian. Forecasts for higher winds from more tropical cyclones and hurricanes are not good news.

California – For the past three years, the state has experienced the largest wildfire season in history, the worst drought in 1,200 years, and a series of record-breaking atmospheric rivers. Golden State residents don’t need to be reminded of the risks they face, but First Street’s data shows a few California counties are high on the list for the most extreme fire risk and some cities with the highest percentage of homes at risk of flooding.

Which states did Moody’s Analytics find to have the greatest physical risks?

When it comes to weather-related events, hurricanes are literally the heavyweights when it comes to acute physical hazards. Climate change is already increasing rainfall in some tropical storms and hurricanes and could slow them down overland, but that research is still ongoing, scientists say. Floods and wildfires also played a role in Kamins’ assessment of physical risks. Here’s his list:

Florida

Louisiana

south carolina

North Carolina

Delaware

Rhodes Island

New Jersey

Virginia

Massachusetts

Connecticut

Other venues suffer from changes that happen over time rather than individual events that make headlines. Think of the creep of rising sea levels or warmer nights and higher average temperatures.

San Francisco has above-average risks in these categories and more, and is the most exposed major city in the country, Kamins said.

Brown pelicans fly in front of the San Francisco skyline on August 17, 2018 in San Francisco, California.

It’s one of those urban areas where residents aren’t used to extreme temperatures and many homes don’t have air conditioning, he said. In a world where temperatures rise 5-10 degrees, San Francisco residents, unlike Florida residents, are ill-equipped to deal with heat and this can be economically damaging.

Other cities with a more gradually increasing risk on Moody’s Analytics’ list include:

Southeastern metropolitan areas are particularly at risk as they face rising sea levels and higher temperatures, in addition to a parade of cyclones that could intensify, according to Kamins’ research. The best 10:

Jacksonville, NC

New Bern, NC

Myrtle Beach, SC

Wilmington, NC

Greenville, NC

Charleston, SC

Punta Gorda, Florida

Deltona, Florida

San Juan, PR

Palm Bay, Florida

Goldsboro, NC

Billion-dollar disaster data suggests that states are already paying the price as the climate changes.

If there is any doubt about the risks of future climate change, look no further NOAA’s list of weather and climate disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damage.

At least 37 states suffered twice that billion dollar disasters this century than in the previous 20 years.

Tornado activity appears to be expanding in the Mid-South, with more frequent outbreaks, and a USA TODAY study showed that extreme rainfall events are becoming more common along the Mississippi River Valley. Scientists say both trends may be related to the warming of the Gulf of Mexico.

USA TODAY survey How a summer of extreme weather reveals a stunning shift in the way rain falls in America.

But it’s not just weather conditions that are causing the disaster toll to rise, NOAA said. More extreme weather events take a greater toll as population and development in vulnerable areas increase.

“Where you live is important, but how you live is just as important,” he said Stephen Strader, a meteorologist and associate professor at Villanova University. “There are things we can do to better prepare our current developments for climate change.”

Billion dollar disaster events per year since 2001 (more than 3):

Texas-5.3

Illinois-3.9

Georgia – 3.7

Oklahoma – 3.6

Missouri-3.5

North Carolina – 3.4

Alabama-3.3

Tennessee-3.3

Virginia – 3.2

Chance – 3.1

Mississippi – 3.1

More than 300% increase in billion dollar disasters per year since 2000:

Arizona – 500%

Wyoming – 450%

Utah – 400%

New Mexico – 367%

Nevada – 335%

Nebraska – 320%

Colorado – 300%

Wisconsin – 300%

When considering future scenarios, it’s important to note that much remains within the world’s control, Mann said.

With substantial action to keep warming below 3 degrees F, “we can limit the worsening of extreme weather events,” although sea level rise would already be contained, he said. A lack of action would mean that “the consequences in the interior of our continent could be just as bad”.

How taking action can help On Earth Day, scientists tell us what 2050 could look like. Their answers may surprise you.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What are the worst cities and states for climate change impacts?

Climate change is bad for everyone. But this is

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