Climate Damages To Ravage American South: New Study

Imagine 20 percent of your income going to damages from climate change, because that's the level of cost the poorest American counties could face by the end of this century, according to a study published today in the Journal Science.
Those hardest-hit counties lie across a broad swath of the American South, particularly in Texas and Florida, where the scientists expect higher temperatures, changing rainfall, rising seas and intensifying hurricanes to worsen agriculture, crime, health, energy demand, labor and coastal living.
"In the absence of major efforts to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience, the Gulf Coast will take a massive hit," said author Robert Kopp, a professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. "Its exposure to sea-level rise—made worse by potentially stronger hurricanes—poses a major risk to its communities. Increasingly extreme heat will drive up violent crime, slow down workers, amp up air conditioning costs, and threaten people's lives."
Meanwhile, the authors expect an equally broad swath of the American north and Rocky Mountain states to benefit economically, as health, agriculture and energy costs improve.
Those areas also tend to be wealthier, so climate impacts "may result in the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the country's history," said Solomon Hsiang, an associate professor of public policy at UC Berkeley.
Amir Jina, who tomorrow becomes an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Chicago, calculated the impacts as a percent of total income in each county. So each county's tally represents the amount an average resident of that county stands to lose, or gain, economically as a result of climate change without mitigation—that is, if the country continues on a business-as-usual course, he told me via email.
You can look up the impact expected in your county using the Climate Impact Lab's Interactive Map.
The Climate Impact Lab is a new consortium of researchers and universities working to assess the real-world costs of climate change. Their paper in Science is titled "Estimating Economic Damage from Climate Change in the United States."

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