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6/29/2017 2:14 pm  #1

As Climate Changes, Southern States Will Suffer More Than Others

Predicted damages, 2080 to 2099
Percent of county G.D.P. per year

As Climate Changes, Southern
States Will Suffer More Than Others

As global warming cooks the United States in the decades ahead, not all states will suffer equally. Maine may benefit from milder winters. Florida, by contrast, could face major losses, as deadly heat waves flare up in the summer and rising sea levels eat away at valuable coastal properties.

In a new study in the journal Science, researchers analyzed the economic harm that climate change could inflict on the United States in the coming century. They found that the impacts could prove highly unequal: states in the Northeast and West would fare relatively well, while parts of the Midwest and Southeast would be especially hard hit.

In all, the researchers estimate that the nation could face damages worth 0.7 percent of gross domestic product per year by the 2080s for every 1 degree Fahrenheit rise in global temperature. But that overall number obscures wide variations: The worst-hit counties — mainly in states that already have warm climates, like Arizona or Texas — could see losses worth 10 to 20 percent of G.D.P. or more if emissions continue to rise unchecked.

“The reason for that is fairly well understood: A rise in temperatures is a lot more damaging if you’re living in a place that’s already hot,” said Solomon Hsiang, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a lead author of the study.

“You see a similar pattern internationally, where countries in the tropics are more heavily impacted by climate change,” he said. “But this is the first study to show that same pattern of inequality in the United States.”

The greatest economic impact would come from a projected increase in heat wave deaths as temperatures soared, which is why states like Alabama and Georgia would face higher risks while the cooler Northeast would not. If communities do not take preventative measures, the projected increase in heat-related deaths by the end of this century would be roughly equivalent to the number of Americans killed annually in auto accidents.

Higher temperatures could also lead to steep increases in energy costs in parts of the country, as utilities may need to overbuild their grids to compensate for heavier air-conditioning use in hot months. Labor productivity in many regions is projected to suffer, especially for outdoor workers in sweltering summer heat. And higher sea levels along the coasts would make flooding from future hurricanes far more destructive.

Last edited by Goose (6/29/2017 2:17 pm)

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